Vivek Banga explains how the focus has shifted in the digital space for the industry
Isn’t it fantastic that this year we are back in person in Manchester for BIBA’s annual conference? After a gap of three years, I am sure I am not the only one who is eagerly looking forward to meeting industry colleagues face to face at this annual event which has always been a highlight of our insurance calendars.
The theme of this year’s conference is “our insurance community”. In my organisation, Polaris UK, which is 100% owned by the insurance industry and promotes digital trading within the industry, we often see how well the industry collaborates as a community. It was really heartening that our multiple advisory groups supported by several market participants continued to meet uninterrupted – albeit virtually – during the pandemic years. Companies continued to collaborate to create and improve the common languages and processes to advance digital trading for the benefit of customers. I don’t think such engagement and spirit of community is present in many sectors.
The last three years have sharpened the industry’s focus on digital trading, on the increasing sophistication of emerging technologies and the expectations of our customers in how they access insurance. Our customers are no exception to the way in which society now embraces technology, both to enrich individual lifestyles and to consume products and services. Discrete trading channels that carried labels such as “online”, “in-store” or “contact centre” are blending, and consumers might seamlessly initiate a purchase in one channel and complete it in another. Needless to say, we will also have to meet such evolving expectations.
Our industry was an early embracer of digital technologies and in areas like trading of Personal Lines and SME insurance, they are deeply embedded. I am convinced that the use of digital technologies will rapidly increase to more widely support the exchange of information between customers, brokers, insurers, and providers of support services such as surveying, risk assessment and claims management. Trading wise also, we are seeing an increase in the premiums of policies transacted within digital platforms and in volumes of digital live chat. There is only one direction of travel.
Unsurprisingly, the early wave of tech led insurance startups targeted digital savvy Personal Lines and SME customers. The possibility of truly disruptive tech led outfits always remains, however there will also be room for several tech collaborations between newer firms and incumbents. These collaborations will focus on processes that underpin the purchase, servicing and claims management of insurance and automate or evolve them for the benefit of the customers and the industry. Such collaborations might attract fewer headlines, but they will be more widespread and impactful.
Our industry has always loved and stored lots of data. Modern technologies are enabling the speed and ease with which vast amounts of data can be analysed, turned into insight, and shared across different technology systems. This coupled with the trends I have outlined above truly provides a scalable foundation for collaboration and evolves us from a community to a digitally empowered community. We are well on our way towards that.
I look forward to the conference and its various panel discussions, including the one on the “future delivery of insurance” that I am taking part in. I wish you all a very happy and productive BIBA conference!