After the unforeseen events of 2020, it’s time to look to the future and what 2021 will bring. In the general insurance industry, we have seen swathes of change as a result of the pandemic, from having to adapt to working from home to making sure everyone continues to communicate with each other.
Much has been made of the hardships of last year and there have certainly been challenges for all of us to overcome. But it’s also important to highlight some of the positive aspects of the last year and how the industry can learn from these to develop our services, products and ways of working.
Adapting ways of working
Pre-Covid, many of my team were required to travel up and down the country several times a week for meetings with clients and brokers. However, the introduction of lockdown meant a whole new way of working and revolutionised the way we do business. Indeed, the use of video conferencing tools has led to greater efficiency and more time for those working in the industry to utilise the time they otherwise would have been away from the office to be productive.
The use of digital tools has been particularly successful when it comes to events such as webinars and workshops. Being able to attend these from the comfort of your home has made them more accessible to people across the country, ultimately meaning greater learning and development in the industry.
There are useful things we can take away from this. While nothing will ever fully replace the value of human interaction, it’s important to think about how the industry can take the successful elements of using virtual tools to create a better balance for businesses and individuals.
Brokers futureproofing their businesses
Last year, the mortgage market came to a grinding halt overnight, leaving many advisers without an income. This sudden pause highlighted the importance of having multiple income streams, particularly in times of crisis.
For advisers, it’s vital to consider how they can diversify their business and get the most out of their back books. Adapting their service and offering advice on a range of products means advisers have the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with their customers, whilst ensuring they have a stable income for themselves.
Advising on general insurance is a perfect example of this. With people still spending more time at home, talking to clients about their home insurance policy in 2021 is a great way for advisers to adapt to the situation. Advisers should also take advantage of the support and resources available to help them achieve this. At Legal & General, we launched our learning and development hub for advisers to provide video guides, blogs and e-learning webinars to help advisers navigate the general insurance market during Covid-19.
In response to the pandemic last year, general insurance providers worked together to help the industry overcome some of the challenges and unknowns of the crisis. As we look to this year and the difficulties that continue to face us, it’s time to build on this collaboration and think about how combining our strengths can help the sector develop and grow. Working with brokers and customers to improve our service is something that all providers do, so why not pool our resources to make sure the sector as a whole is meeting the needs of those it is trying to protect?
I believe working with our competitors and uniting as industry experts is a valuable tool for all insurers. Collaborating will not only help us enhance our offerings to consumers and advisers but will also help strengthen the reputation of the sector.
Creating valuable propositions
Our customers are what drive our businesses, so providing a great service should be at the heart of everything we do as an industry. As such, it’s important for there to be a market focus on adding value to our propositions which goes beyond offering low prices.
Undoubtedly, customers are often looking for a deal that offers the best value for money. And while they may be lured in by a low price at the beginning of their policy, they are far less likely to stay loyal if providers then significantly hike the price up in the subsequent years of their policy. With the FCA policy statement on general insurance pricing set to be published in the first half of this year, I hope that drastic price hiking will come to an end and we begin to see more transparency on pricing and a greater focus on added value options. Indeed, as an industry we should be considering where we can add value to the customer beyond our own propositions, whether this is in the form of additional services or offers.
This year is a great opportunity for the general insurance industry to take onboard the positives from last year and come together to improve our service for customers and brokers.