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Understanding the Current Insurance Landscape to Help Clients Manage their Risks

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Risk is at the core of our business, and to navigate the complexities of the current insurance landscape, we must understand the various risk factors at play, including climate change, supply chain disruptions, infrastructure challenges, and, lastly, the effects of AI on our business. All of these are contributing to the rising costs within the insurance market. For consumers, a persistent sluggish economy means continual increases in insurance costs in excess of CPI—for individuals and businesses alike.

For Bryte, 2024 presents challenges similar to those in the previous year. Insurance brokers and companies need to proactively develop their products and services to remain relevant and effective in serving their clients. It is crucial for consumers to understand these dynamics when insuring their assets so that they can make the best decisions to ensure adequate coverage.

Climate change: Catastrophes (CATs) and more attritional weather-related claims

The effects of climate change and extreme weather events put significant pressure on the insurance industry. The constant unpredictable weather patterns make the occurrences of CATs harder to anticipate. Not only do these events lead to loss, but they also result in increased insurance premiums, adding further strain on consumers’ budgets. Therefore, insurance brokers are critical in assessing the risk landscape and providing clients with the advice and protection they need to manage risks. When assisting clients to manage costs and adequately protect their assets, it is important to remember that underinsurance is a significant problem. As the cost of repairs and replacement increases, clients need up-to-date guidance.

Fire and theft remain a challenge

Property fires and motor vehicle thefts are other significant risks that clients have increasingly been subjected to. Damage to property or vehicle loss often results in substantial financial losses and business interruption. In some cases, catastrophic consequences of these events result in the tragic loss of life. Brokers can assist by increasing people’s appreciation for the level of destruction that can prevail and, most importantly, by providing advice on preventing such disasters.

Supply chain inflation: Impact on costs of repair and replacement

The insurance landscape is especially vulnerable to worldwide supply chain disruptions. Ever-rising inflation and supply chain costs have not only resulted in production shutdowns and labour shortages but have also put a strain on insurers when replacing or repairing damaged property or goods. Consequently, insurers need to adjust their premiums to account for these rising costs.

Infrastructure challenges

Infrastructure deterioration, such as potholes, ineffective urban drainage systems and lack of adequate firefighting equipment, increases insurance claims costs. Road accidents caused by poor road conditions, flooding due to inadequate drainage, and property damage from fires highlight the urgent need for infrastructure investment to mitigate risks and reduce insurers’ exposure to liabilities. Given this reality, South Africans must continue to insure their assets, as the risk of damage has increased.

Artificial intelligence and technology advancements

Due to technological advancements, insurers and intermediaries will be required to improve their relevance and the value they add to customers. To enhance and remain relevant, the industry will be expected to:

  • Enhance underwriting to offer bespoke, uncomplicated products and solutions that minimise risk and are price competitive.
  • Expand multi-platform accessibility. Increasingly, customers are expecting 24/7 services, with many demanding near-real-time responses. Self-service (through chatbots) options are becoming a mainstay, and more are taking to social media rather than traditional business engagement channels.
  • Implement best practices for customer service excellence and risk management.
  • Ensure seamless processes for timeous claims resolution.
  • Engage in partnerships that strengthen operational capabilities – from complementing your value proposition to introducing more technologically savvy systems/processes to enhancing productivity and efficiencies.

Companies need to accept that the digital revolution is here to improve the way of conducting business and understand that fast-tracking the industry to digitisation will ensure that it can grow its customer base and remain valuable to the whole value chain.

The collective solution

To mitigate the impact of these cost increases, insurers must focus on specific areas such as thatch, flood risks, and comprehensive risk management strategies. The underlying principle involves a thorough assessment, ensuring that clients are adequately insured and prepared for emerging risks like cyber threats and the implications of adopting alternative energy sources such as solar panels and lithium-ion batteries.

The role of insurance brokers is more critical than ever in this evolving landscape. They are tasked with understanding and adapting to these changes while ensuring their clients are well-informed and protected. This involves a commitment to staying ahead of trends, providing up-to-date advice, and emphasising the importance of coverage for both traditional and emerging risks.

By focusing on these areas, the insurance industry can better serve its clients, helping them navigate the complexities of today’s risk environment and ensuring their resilience against tomorrow’s threats.