Wartime CEO: An Insurance leader’s perspective on an industry at risk as a result of COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic is widely recognised as the largest insurance challenge ever faced by the industry, and the final cost of the losses continues to hang over the sector.

In response, Artesian Solutions held an interactive webinar attended by 19 C-suite insurance professionals from across 12 UK insurance and broking organisations.

They gave up their lunch break to discuss lessons the insurance industry can learn from previous “wartime” challenges (such as the financial crisis of 2008, 9/11, and so on), and the best way to provide the support and guidance that clients need during these extraordinary times.

In particular, the group focussed on how broker organisations must digitally mobilise their workforce and adapt to a hybrid-working model, the immediate and longer-term consequences for operations and technology, and the potential challenges and opportunities brought about by digitisation.

The highlight of the event was hearing from headline speaker Anthony Gruppo, CEO of Marsh Commercial.

A highly respected insurance leader and business author with over 30 years insurance market experience, Anthony shared his views on developing and sustaining client relationships, building a targeted approach to the uncovering of challenges, and the delivery of creative solutions that enhance both customer journeys and brand equity.

Adapting to a hybrid model and digitally mobilising the insurance workforce

In an employee poll run by one leading insurer on the call, 95% of respondents expressed a desire for the flexibility to work from home post-COVID-19.

The industry has been plagued by the suggestion that it has been slow to adapt. However, Anthony explained that insurance organisations (even the big ones) can, despite reports to the contrary, be lightning-fast to respond when they galvanise.

Many companies, brokers included, have been using hybrid remote and flexible working models for some time.

Going into an enforced lockdown accelerated the development of this working model. Whilst brokers may have initially found enforced home working quite difficult, many have now gotten used to it and, with the right tools in place, have shown that their productivity hasn’t changed.

So, will brokers continue on this route to flexibility?

Anthony believes they can, but that to rise to the challenge of ‘working from anywhere’, brokers must be task-oriented, and insurance businesses must ensure that their mission and values remain intact. Digitising the workforce is key – brokers need a platform that enables them to grow and act with speed and efficiency.

Proactive rather than reactive client engagement must be the ‘new normal’ for insurance brokers

45% of respondents polled during the Zoom call agreed that the biggest challenge facing the insurance industry is how to help clients effectively during the current economic uncertainty.

Another 22% suggested that the biggest challenge for brokers is reacting deeper and faster to changes in coverage offered to commercial clients.

Anthony believes that brokers must prioritise their focus on how to make the industry better, that they must work together to strengthen the industry as a whole, and regain trust. When explaining exactly how insurance brokers must change, Anthony explained that their approach must shift from transactional to consultative – from proactive to reactive, as the paradigm shifts post-Coronavirus.

He says brokers must show acumen to strategically help clients and transfer their knowledge base. “New ideas don’t renew in August”, Anthony said.

Commercial insurance clients are now entering the renewals period, but they are doing so with fundamentally different exposures to those experienced the previous year, and it will be increasingly difficult for brokers to manage risk and long-term premiums.

Anthony advised that brokers must therefore replace old-world thinking, they must become strategists and tacticians, and above all else put themselves in a position to act with empathy and deep understanding of every client’s needs.

Client intelligence will be vital to the new-world order agreed Anthony, explaining that technology leadership will open up competitive advantage and opportunity for brokers.

Digitisation allows brokers to respond to the changing needs of clients with more innovative underwriting and products, to improve interaction with their client community, and provides the opportunity to redefine how they themselves operate.

COVID-19 is shaping investment in customer experience-driven technology

56% of people attending the webinar believed that it would take 2 plus years for the insurance industry to reach a stable ‘new normal’.

Anthony and participants in the interactive webinar unanimously agreed that investment in technology would be key to the future of the broker model.

As the extreme nature of the crisis speeds up innovation, brokers that pivot to become more digitally focused organisations will be much better placed to accelerate out of the crisis and reach a stable ‘new normal’ faster than their peers.

The nature of the insurance renewal process means that traditionally brokers have had less frequent touchpoints or interactions with clients than seen in other sectors. This needs to change. Customer expectations require brokers to be continuously alive to changing needs and emerging risks throughout the lifecycle of a policy.

“The more futuristic brokers become, the more futuristic the results they will deliver to clients”, said Anthony.

It’s anticipated that insurance products will likely start to be sold through a digitally powered advice approach, echoing Anthony’s view that the industry must become more consultative.

Investing in tools that continuously monitor customer data and insight will lead to much greater levels of personalisation, and so change the customer experience and the broker value proposition.

The Coronavirus crisis might just prove to be the catalyst for innovation in insurance, unlocking the greater levels of customer experience and personalisation that has long been overdue.

About Marsh Commercial & Artesian Engage

Marsh Commercial is a leading insurance broking business with global backing and a local focus. Artesian Solutions has been supporting its proven and trusted experts with the AI-powered insights they need to deliver the flair, flexibility and personal service that Marsh’s clients expect.

Anthony Gruppo, CEO at Marsh Commercial is an author, podcast host, visionary leader, and motivational speaker with over 30 years’ experience of delivering organic growth. Anthony focuses on building invaluable client relationships via his ‘Six Degrees of Impact’ model. His consultative approach guides clients to uncover opportunities and create effective, profitable solutions.

Find out more about how Artesian ENGAGE is helping shape the future of broker-client engagement, and how ARCH is driving advanced insurance customer onboarding and risk decisioning.

Watch the interview with Anthony Gruppo below: