After the excesses of December, the January detox is upon us. A good time to soberly reflect on the year that was and try and second guess what this year has in store.
One thing you can say is that we were kept ‘entertained’ in 2017 by the first year of the Trump presidency – it’s been different that’s for sure! Is the word ‘diplomacy’ now officially consigned to history in the world of politics?
The Brexit debate has also limped on. For much of the year the leavers and remainers seemed to be united in their frustration and concern at what the final outcome might be.
And in the world of sport? I’m an Arsenal fan so it was another year of frustration. Arsenal finished outside the top 4 and Arsene got a new contract taking his tenure to about 123 years. England lost the Ashes by Christmas, but qualified for the football World Cup finals, although I don’t think France or Germany will be having sleepless nights. On a positive note England’s Women won the cricket world cup and both the Under 17 and Under 20 boys won their respective football world cups, so not all bad!
In our world we had Ogden of course; IPT went up again, although we escaped the additional work and, more importantly, the additional cost to our customers that we feared in the lead up to the Autumn Budget. InsurTech coverage almost matched GDPR as the year went on, with some genuinely innovative offerings both large and small emerging, ranging from globally known companies like Lemonade and Zhong An – the latter which had an IPO valuation of $12bn last September – to numerous initiatives in the UK. All of this creates an imperative for existing insurers and brokers to be ‘on our toes’ if we are to continue to be relevant and meet the ever-changing needs of our customers.
We’ve seen continued consolidation in the market, both amongst brokers and insurers. The year started with the Marsh/Jelf/Bluefin deal but was followed by numerous other deals involving PIB, GRP, Aston Scott/Lark, Stackhouse Poland, Bollington, Aon and many others. The good news from where I am sitting is that in our interactions with this wave of ‘consolidators’ it feels very much like the customer is at the heart of things – in other words the traditional values of independent brokers are at the fore.
2017 also saw the launch of Insurance United Against Dementia (IUAD), a partnership between the insurance industry and The Alzheimer’s Society. The goal is simple, to raise £10m over 5 years to help fund research in to dementia related illnesses. Anybody who heard Chris Wallace speak at the British Insurance Awards could not help but be moved by it. He certainly got my attention and I’m delighted to have joined the IUAD Board, as it is a cause close to my heart and also absolutely consistent with the Covéa Insurance value of ‘Giving Something Back’.
So, what about some predictions for 2018?
The Brexit debate will continue to dominate the news, and to divide opinion. I just hope that we end up with a solution that enables the UK (and European) insurance industry to continue to prosper. As things stand it’s difficult to reconcile the needs of the industry, one which makes a massive contribution to UK GDP, with the principles of Brexit. Whatever happens there will be a lot of grumpy people!
Manchester City will win the league, but will lose a game, probably against an unfancied mid table side. Maybe Arsenal!
England will get knocked out in the first knock out round at the World Cup, on penalties to Germany.
In the world of insurance, GDPR will be as prominent in our thinking in the next few months as Ogden was last year. Will we get a workable and sustainable future for Ogden in 2018? I hope so. We might even see progress on soft tissue injury reforms. Provided both of these get airtime at a time when Brexit is all consuming for the Government.
The focus on InsurTech will continue to intensify and there will be more and more examples of insurers and brokers partnering with these firms to bring new and innovative customer propositions to market.
Consolidation will also continue, certainly in the broker market and probably the insurer market too. I’d expect to see at least 1 mega deal in 2018.
As for us at Covéa Insurance, what can you expect to see from the Commercial & HNW team in 2018? We have a series of commercial lines showcases planned for early 2018, these will feature a sneak peek at our brand new commercial combined product and include speakers on a range of topics relevant to our industry. Later in the year we will be piloting an e-trade version of our new commercial combined product. We’ll also continue to evolve our mid & high net worth offerings with product refreshes for both Executive Home and Executive Motor. To offer an even better proposition for brokers, we’ll also be focusing on innovation and looking at new ways to work with our partner brokers to meet the ever-changing needs of customers.
Finally, look out for InsureTrek, an opportunity to put our boots on for IUAD – a lot of steps for us, one small step forward in the fight against dementia.