News round-up 27 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

Our team spent a great day at BrokerExpo 2021 at Coventry Building Society Arena yesterday, meeting old and new friends – in real life! If you missed us there, feel free to make contact and look out for exciting news about our plans for 2022. Hopefully, we can all meet up again next year.

On with the news. More deals this week, with Lemonade leading the charge, plus some pet owners are counting the cost of adopting a lockdown pal and Insurance Edge considers this, could wearable tech transform Life & healthcare insurance?

START: DEALS UPDATE

We all love to hear the latest gossip and this week, Partners& snapped up Nottinghamshire brokers IFM, while Hannover Re announced it was divesting 49% of HDI Global. Meanwhile, Xenia Broking acquired some trade credit and speciality business from Parker Norfolk & Partners. Things have been extra busy in Nottingham this week, as insurance data specialist Percays-Inform announced they had signed up with Somerset Bridge on a new project for the MGA.

RUN: PET REGRET

New research from Forbes this week highlighted the cost of keeping a pet can top £1300 a year and found that some people now regret taking on the responsibility during lockdown. This got us wondering why pet insurance is still a difficult sell in the UK market where, according to the ABI, some 84% of cats and 67% of dogs are uninsured.

Perhaps insurers need to harness the power of social media channels like TikTok and Instagram with more panache to showcase the holistic benefits of pet ownership and highlight the great work that assistance dogs do for so many people. Pet activities and lifestyle rewards could help sweeten the cost of pay-monthly premiums too.

GROW: WEARABLE TECH, TRACKABLE DATA

Do you wear a fitness tracker watch? Lots of people do and some of these, like the Corsano Cardio Watch, are more MediTech devices than fashion statements. The big benefit for insurers is getting accurate data on someone’s health status and the potential use in nursing homes, vulnerable person care, and rehab following a PI claim cannot be underestimated.

Understanding where someone is exactly and how their vital signs are looking is going to become an essential part of managing life and health risk.

AND GROW: INSURTECHS STEP UP TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

It’s been brewing for a long time, but the merger of Lemonade and Metromile in the USA shows that insurtechs, especially the big fundraisers, can seriously challenge established companies. The blending of Metromile’s PAYG car cover with Lemonade’s fabled speedy claims on contents and gadgets makes sense and creates a challenger brand.

If you look at how Cazoo has barnstormed the UK car retailing market in the last two years, you can see the market is ripe for insurtech brands to rival some big names in home, general insurance and motor. The end of the price-walking practice next year may be the catalyst.

 

AND FINALLY: ROOM AT THE TOP?

The most read story this week on the Insurance Edge site was the interview with Donna Scully, CEO at Carpenters Law. There is still a distinct lack of working-class people at the very top in the world of insurance and law and we have to ask the question, why is that? Well worth reading, Donna’s story of how anyone can make it if they want to shows the sky’s the limit, not a glass ceiling.

On that positive note we sign off, see you next week.

News round-up 26 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

This week we look for opportunities in the home office sector, note the value of matching ADAS features to driver risk and look at what effect the COP26 commitments will have on the insurance sector.

START: COP26

LIIBA issued a statement this week as COP26 got underway. The transition to Net Zero is a target that every government in the UK, EU and beyond is keen to achieve, so there will be regulatory back-up on these aims as well. For brokers, the opportunity is offering advice on things like de-carbonisation of a company, says LIIBA, who are keen to get busy.

Oil and gas to follow coal?

The big insurers have already moved away from insuring things like new coal mines. As COP26 pledges to end coal usage in over 40 countries, the activist pressure will shift to oil and gas. For brokers, the downside of all this could be that insuring fuel storage, tanker distribution, gas boiler installation etc becomes a more challenging proposition – time will tell.

Compliance and Standards

To achieve Net Zero there has to be a universally accepted set of standards on things like company reporting and the IFRS are already well advanced with this matter.

News this week that an International Sustainability Standards Board is to be established will save brokers, MGAs and insurers time and money trying to figure out exactly what the value of different carbon off-setting schemes might be for example. That level of clarity is essential for the industry.

Green investment becomes mandatory

The other big trend emerging from COP26 is one of stricter controls on investments by insurers. Largely this affects the pension fund cash being invested, but eventually, this could filter down to MGA and broker level. The agreement this week at COP26 from banks and insurers to pledge billions in sustainable investment pools shows which way the wind is blowing. The rules will be all about making sustainability the very heart of the investment, in other words, is it socially good, not can you make money from it?

RUN: ADAS COULD PREVENT FENDER-BENDER CLAIMS

Think about it. Those automated braking systems, where objects in front and behind are detected via sensors and then the brakes are applied to avoid impact, could save insurers and brokers big time.

Admiral agrees, which is why they’ve bought into the LexisNexis ADAS database, which tracks the safety features of each car, of which there are 100s of variations. Knowing the driver’s poor navigational skills in an Asda car park can be overcome via technology is a bonus. And it can protect No Claims Bonuses too.

GROW: HOME OFFICE RISKS

A news item this week from Ageas, who note that laptops and tablets took some damage from spilt milk, water damage and rogue pets during lockdown. What started as three weeks to flatten the curve has morphed into a hybrid work model, where many people rarely leave their houses.

For brokers, there is a huge opportunity in covering home offices, conversions of outbuildings, data protection both paper records and online, business interruption, plus high-value items like Apple Macs, digital camera studio set-ups and more.

Interesting times ahead.

News round-up 25 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

Half-term doldrums? Not at all, we’ve been twice as busy with news on improved tracker tech to stop professional theft gangs, the big city exodus, and that John Lewis advert. Let’s get to it.

START: FCA CANCELS JOHN LEWIS AD

The FCA reminded John Lewis that advertising the wilful destruction of your house contents by your child might not be classed as accidental damage this week. In other words, your ad is potentially misleading on the insurance T&Cs, so remove it.

The fact is, compliance is something that every insurance brand has to be aware of – and stick to the rules – otherwise what’s the point?

RUN: AX INNOVATION JOINS SECURED BY DESIGN

Raising standards in vehicle security is something every insurer can agree with, so news this week that AX Innovation has joined the Secured By Design initiative is good to see. Looking at the organised theft of prestige cars, standards on trackers need to be the very best – and covert too.

If you can genuinely track vehicles to the port of exit where the Range Rovers and Audi RS3s are being shipped out of the country, then you have a chance of nicking most of the gang, not just the keyless entry gadget operator and the driver.

GROW: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING

News from Hamptons Agency this week that an estimated three million people have left major UK cities for the quieter suburbs or rural areas. WFH is here to stay. That means opportunities for brokers who can offer cover on outbuildings, summer houses, shed offices, customer data being stored at home, more gadgets etc.

AND FINALLY…

Yes, Aston Lark bought another brokerage this week. Bainbridge Collins in the Midlands was snapped up for an undisclosed sum. IE asked Professor Neil Ferguson from SAGE how many brokers AL might buy this year and he said, `Probably hundreds, all of them I’d say.’

OK, that last bit was satire and on that legal disclaimer bombshell, we bid you farewell.

News round-up 24 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

This week we received intriguing news that insurers could get an alert about risky behaviour, PI claims fell by around 40% in terms of value, in Ireland, plus we analyse what the Argentina ID card database hack means for insurers. It’s all happening

START: CAN AI PREDICT RISK BEHAVIOUR?

It sounds like a sci-fi movie, but reading the info from TigerRisk this week, that is what the software is meant to do. TigerRisk and Pinpoint Predictive say that by using AI to study behavioural data in detail, insurers can get alerts when a certain type of risk increases.

No, we don’t think that AI software can predict the next Yaris vs Ford Focus bump in Asda’s car park, but general patterns and trends could be identified. Sometimes they may be weather-related, like the escape of water after cold spells, others could be more about major sporting or cultural events, or certain keywords being used in FNOL calls or emails. There is value in predictive data, but as ever, it comes down to joining the dots to form a complete picture.

RUN: PI CLAIMS IN IRELAND GETTING CHEAPER

The latest stats from PIAB suggest that PI claims by value have dropped by 40% since 2020, which could mean we have turned the corner on injury claims. The PIAB notes that new judicial guidelines introduced about 6 months ago seem to have had an effect but warns that public liability claims remain high.

There’s an interesting case where the Court of Appeal overturned a decision to award an injured cyclist 113,000 euros.

GROW: CYBER IS THE NEXT PANDEMIC

There was the Facebook/Insta outage recently, US pipelines switched off and more importantly. some hackers managed to download the population of Argentina’s ID card data. Yes, all 46 million records, some of which are reportedly for sale on the dark web.

IE thinks this all highlights the vulnerability of purely online systems. The next pandemic-type emergency could be a virus which stops container ships in the middle of the ocean, so what happens to the global supply chain then? Insurers can expect more organised cyber-attacks and ransomware demands in 2022. In fact, Lockton announced this week they have set up a special Crisis Management Division.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, we say.

AND GROW: ESG IS THE NEW STANDARD

News this week that Beazley is launching a Lloyd’s of London Syndicate that will offer extra capacity to ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) friendly clients. Smart move, as climate change-related infrastructure, power generation, housing insulation, heat pumps and more is all in the pipeline and all need insuring.

Those brokers who still haven’t got around to adding statements on everything from diversity quotas, and carbon net zero targets to e-scooter charging docks at the office, need to get their skates on.

This stuff is pretty much mandatory now, although the thought occurs to IE; who decides what the minimum ESG benchmarks are for insurers and brokers? The FCA, the government…Twitter activists?

And with that tricky riddle, we bid you a pleasant weekend.

News round-up 23 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

Let’s just get straight into the Aston Lark-Howden thing and what it means for the broker sector.

START: TECH & CHEAP MONEY ARE FUELLING A ROLL-UP

IE has counted some 20 acquisitions by Aston Lark in 2021 before the Howden Group deal was announced this week. It’s a trend that has gathered pace over the last few years and as GRP has stated, the technology that can now be deployed to automate admin, claims and pricing is something you can apply across a range of specialist broker brands.

But the other factor here is cheap money. As many have noted in the insurtech sector, getting Series A-D funding isn’t that difficult if you have an innovative solution to an insurance market problem. Howden, along with many others has a substantial supply of private equity cash at its disposal and as interest rates are low, expect more action in the broker sector.

Indeed, the FT reported that Peter Blanc, who now becomes Howden Executive Chair of Retail broking at Howden, is targeting more acquisitions. So hang onto your hats.

 

RUN: RAW DATA ISN’T MUCH USE

A press release came into the IE Inbox this week that demonstrated how data on its own, without context, is pretty much useless. The news that a Birmingham postcode has the most speeding convictions per capita is slightly interesting but it tells a broker or MGA nothing about risk.

For that, you need to overlay the speeding data with the location of the offence, not the registered keeper’s address, then add local vandalism or theft claims by postcode, then slap on a layer of PI claims data by postcode, then by vehicle and email address and phone number. See what we mean? With data, you only get the full picture when you join the dots and analyse patterns, trends and unusual spikes.

 

GROW: THE CREDIT HIRE THING IS RIPE FOR TRANSFORMATION

News this week that broker MCE is planning to save £8m a year from the credit hire bill got our attention. As they mention, many replacement vehicles can be way over the spec of the damaged car, or motorcycle, and the system of using hire car contracts can easily lead to a medium-term commitment. That in turn, raises the costs of settling the claim.

There is definitely an opportunity here for an on-demand `car match’ facility to replace the traditional contract hire arrangement. Something like By Miles, a PAYG system that provides a basic car or motorcycle based on journey need, not a couple of months contracted hire. In an era when many people no longer commute, the time is right to update the credit hire system.

 

AND GROW: FLOOD INSURANCE REGISTER IS A FORCE FOR GOOD

BIBA sent us word this week regarding their Flood insurance register, which is really all about bringing flood and escape of water specialists together with brokers, at the exact point of need.

You know it’s easy to walk away from parts of the UK where flooding each winter is a regular event, but insurance can be a force for good, it heals lives, as one company founder told IE a few years ago at the BIBA show.

Given how climate change now dominates the political and mainstream media agenda, the opportunity presented to the insurance sector is huge. Rather than being seen as the baddies, insuring coal power stations or lithium mines in the Congo, insurers and brokers can show they can step up when floods ruin lives and businesses, by developing affordable insurance products for the future.

On that positive note, see you next week.

News round-up 22 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

This week has seen green shoots of recovery in the travel insurance sector, a drop in detected insurance fraud, plus an interesting partnership deal in Gibraltar. Let’s get into it.

START: TRAVEL COVER STILL UP IN THE AIR

Although the traffic light and quarantine/testing system has been pretty much relaxed this week by the UK government, there is still a question mark over the travel insurance sector. Just Travel Cover sent IE news this week that there was a return in bookings for winter sun this week, plus customers want to book two holidays in 2022.

But the black swan on the horizon is climate change. Activists are not going to keep quiet about the impact of the travel sector on the planet. In short, you can expect Insulate Britain-type protests next year at airports and seaports too, plus new green taxes on holidays as politicians see a chance to look virtuous and gather up more cash to service COVID-19 debt.

For brokers in the travel market, there are still challenges ahead.

RUN: ABI FRAUD STATS SHOW TECH CAN WORK

The latest fraud stats from the ABI were published this week and they made interesting reading. Detected fraud was down 10 percent in 2019, to the lowest level since 2007, despite the UK population rising substantially since then.

IE has no doubt that the deployment of technology, from dashcams to Ring doorbells, automated data analytics, smartphone location data, and stacked data, where previous IP addresses, email accounts, claims history and linked names can be layered on top of each other, is all part of the reason for some fraud becoming less lucrative.

It was also refreshing to see cases like the attempted fraud in York, where the failed claimants were obliged to pay ten grand in court costs. Contrast that situation in the UK with Ireland, where fake claims bingo is still a game without consequences for the vast majority of would-be injured parties.

GROW: GIBRALTAR WANTS TO DO INSURANCE BUSINESS

IE magazine chatted earlier this year with Albert Isola, the `get things done’ Minster for Digital and Financial Services on Gibraltar. This is a location which wants to do business with the EU and the UK and welcomes more insurance newbies to the fold. So, it’s no surprise to learn this week that Insurtech UK has negotiated a deal to help start-ups thrive on The Rock.

For brokers and MGAs keen to utilise the cheap investment money slushing around the world right now, by developing new insurance products, the matter of compliance – automated on digital platforms – can be a tough gig in terms of time management. If you can get help with that then it leaves you free to create the good stuff online. Just saying.

AND FINALLY: WFH ISOLATION IS A REAL THING

The insurance industry has embraced working from home and for many, it’s a great relief not to commute using Britain’s dangerous, dirty and unreliable public transport network. The roads aren’t much better either.

But spending 5 days a week in your spare bedroom, glued to a PC or laptop can be a bit lonely too and so this week’s story on the insurance industry karting day, acts as a reminder that brokers and insurers alike need to find ways to bring staff together. Some fresh air, even in winter, is welcome and a competitive activity is a fantastic way to boost morale, plus spot future team leaders within your organisation. There is a value is making people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and their own little online world, even if there can be only one winner, yes, congrats Adrian Flux.

On that Top Gear style bombshell, we bid you farewell.

News round-up 21 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

Winter is coming, as the supply chain problems highlight only too well. On the upside, this week we learn from WTW that M&A activity could be a record-breaker, demand for healthcare cover is up 46% and insurtech funding rounds keep on generating multi-million value deals

START: WILLIS TOWERS PREDICTS AWESOME 2021

The latest report from WTW is predicting that mergers and acquisitions activity this year could well be at an all-time high. That is remarkable after the shock to the world’s economy following COVID-19. It also shows that bigger brands are consolidating, buying smaller rivals, plus forming strategic alliances.

IE’s take on it is simple; technology is levelling the playing field so, if your digital offer isn’t branded well, switched onto social sentiment or tracking the many growth areas within insurance, then you need to buy that knowledge.

RUN: INSURTECH FUNDING

This week saw Cover Genius secures $100m (Australian), Sweden’s app-based home/contents specialist Hedvig bag a tasty $45m and logistics specialist Anansi win $1.5m.

There is still plenty of cash around for the right insurtech concept and once the consolidation process is wrapped up in the UK broker sector, perhaps investment funds and VC backers will be even keener to build up digital brands.

GROW: HEALTHCARE GROWTH

Comparison site Quotezone sent IE some news this week, which stated that demand for private medical insurance was up about 46% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Regardless of politicians’ soundbites, the likely outcome of COVID-19 is that more people with money are going to set aside a percentage of it each month to buy private health insurance for their families. It will be the new normal, just as GPs are never going back to opening to face-to-face appointments on demand.

The other interesting development long term could be private medical facilities in supermarkets, abandoned High Street office/retail units, opticians or even beauty treatment clinics. For insurers and brokers there will probably be opportunities to develop flexible products that cover part-time medical treatments in a variety of locations.

The key area for IE magazine is scanning and diagnostics, which is where the NHS continues to fall down. Those with money want faster results and consultations. The logical step forward would be for a major insurer to open a chain of scanning centres or partner with a specialist company. Let’s see.

AND FINALLY: AMAZON LAUNCHES

After years of rumours, Amazon finally launched an insurance product this week with Superscript as their partner. The actual product is a sole trader/SME cover, with Directors, Cyber, Professional Indemnity etc wrapped up and sold via Amazon Prime, the shopping addict’s Amazon account of choice.

Is that something the industry should fear? Not as far as we can see. It’s a bit niche in fact.

The big news would be that Amazon had an Alexa home insurance product line, where customers could obtain cover via voice analytics questions and Amazon account details, with a fingerprint/face scan as confirmation of agreement in principle perhaps. But that ‘Minority Report’ style product is possibly a decade away.

Ultimately it is the mainstream consumer that Amazon has won over from the High Street with its low-cost trainers and self-penned 99p fan fiction. It could deliver cheap insurance to the masses, but someone needs to build and underwrite that cheap cover. Amazon isn’t going to pay out claims from its own profits, is it?

Yep, those are the harsh facts of insurance life and on that pricing bombshell, we say have a top weekend.

News round-up 20 – exclusively from Insurance Edge

Broker deals activity has fired up again this week, crash-for-cash continues and there could be a solution to the conflict between landlord and tenant on pet ownership. Let’s get into it.


ICYMI: DEALS

Aston Lark signed off on two deals this week, one to acquire a policy book from The Health Insurance Company down in Bournemouth and Abbey Murphy in Ireland. It’s interesting that Aston Lark has made about six acquisitions in Ireland this year when the conventional wisdom in the insurance sector is that Ireland is a challenging marketplace. Maybe some regulatory changes are on the horizon there.


START: CRASH-FOR-CASH CONTINUES

You might think that the rapid spread of dashcams and people mounting their phones on the dashboard would deter your organised crash-happy criminal gangs. But the IFB press release this week highlighted that this is still a small industry from some. This incident took place on a motorway and could have resulted in serious injuries.

The sentences for this £50K fraud attempt? From just 9 months to 20 months each. Ah, now we can see why crash-for-cash will continue to be a problem.


RUN: GREAT IDEAS ARE BORN FROM EXPERIENCE

PetsScore is one of those insurance solutions that was born of its founder’s experience. Natasha Homer-Earley wanted to rent somewhere and keep her pet, but guess what? Many landlords stuck to that `Sorry no pets’ rule.

So PetsScore aims to resolve the issue by getting both tenant and landlord together on pet ownership. Plus, the timing is right as lockdowns are likely to return this winter and working from home is definitely here to stay. The fact is, so many insurtech ideas are really just solving an age-old market problem and there are still lots of opportunities for brokers and MGAs if you look closely enough.


GROW: COMMERCIAL SECTOR IS RIPE FOR TECH DISRUPTION

As the exodus from London continues (just look at the house prices rocketing in agreeable rural locations) and many Retail units look set to be converted to social housing, or simply demolished, the time is right to re-think Commercial cover. When you think about it, people are a far bigger risk than localised flooding every ten years or so.

One solution is to monitor air quality in buildings. You know roughly how many people are in the building, you can detect smokers hanging around the rear access point, and you can back that up with heat, noise, or motion sensors, to understand more about how a building is being used 24/7. This week IE received news from Actility, who have air quality sensors available as a kit. It can even help public sector buildings guard against Covid by tracking the CO2 emissions in different rooms.

All this tech is about managing risk and it gives insurers and brokers a reason to communicate with the policyholder in a positive way, be much more `on their side.’ Good thinking, we say.

Until next week, stay sharp.