Airmic Talks returns with CEO series of interviews

Published on Mon, 21/06/2021 - 11:15

Two of the UK’s leading insurance figures have spoken exclusively to Airmic Talks in a new series of interviews focused on ‘insurance beyond the hard market’.

In our new series for 2021 Airmic Talks, available on all podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud, brings together senior members with leaders of the Association’s risk and insurance partners.

In episode one Julian James, CEO of Sompo International, is in discussion with Airmic CEO Julia Graham, and episode two features a conversation between Claire McDonald, managing director for UK and Ireland at HDI Global, and Matthew McEwan, director of risk management at Coca-Cola European Partners.

Discussion centres around the future of the insurance industry, with guests debating the role of insurance brokers, the suitability of longer-term policies, disruptive new players and the need to achieve greater efficiencies and embrace new technology.

Addressing the insurance industry’s “obsession about pricing levels”, James says “you can't pick up an insurance journal without people commenting whether it's a hard market, a soft market, whether pricing is going up or pricing is going down”.

“And I've always kind of viewed that as missing the point because the insurance industry is obsessed with what I've described as naval gazing,” he explains. “And what it doesn't concentrate on enough is thinking about what it can do for its clients. And clients, through the last 12 months have gone through some really, really tough times.

“We took a decision at Sompo last year when we all went into lockdown to be very clear that we were very much open for business. We knew that clients wanted a strong risk transfer partner. And we were very clear and very deliberate in our communication to our broking partners and to our key clients that we were open for business. And in a number of areas, we actually wanted to increase the capacity that was available and to me, that, to support our clients now, part of that is actually just being open for business, being responsive, to make sure that our, our underwriters are pricing product on a daily basis."

In our second episode, McDonald and McEwan debated the optimum role for brokers and whether insurance buyers would benefit from having a more direct relationship with insurers.

McDonald explained that while it is important for carriers to have strong relationships with the client, the role of the broker was highly valued at HDI.

“I think talking about shifting to more direct relationship s for large corporate clients, that really would be a false economy, I think for all of us,” she says. “And I think there's a couple of different things at play here really.

“One is as a corporate insurer, yes, love to have that direct relationship with the customer, but that doesn't mean that I don't understand, or underestimate the role the broker plays, particularly in a subscription market, particularly when we're talking about placing large limits and the advice that they're giving.

“We work in that corporate space, we work on the basis that the customer is a mature customer in terms of understanding their risks and that the broker provides that advice,  as to who might be the best carrier or the best fit or the best combination of carriers where you're going to get that market alignment.”

To listen to the full Airmic Talks episodes, visit the SoundCloud page or search for ‘Airmic Talks’ on any podcast app.