I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 2022. Kudos to you if you caught the Taylor Swift reference there. In her hit song – aptly named ‘22’ – the American singer-songwriter goes on to say: Everything will be alright if, we just keep dancing like we’re 22.
I believe the insurance industry will have reason to dance in 2022.
The start of the year will undoubtedly be tough. The recent worldwide surge of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has caused many countries to pause their pandemic recovery programs and reintroduce public restrictions. Until this highly infectious variant is better understood – in particular, whether it causes more hospitalisations for already stretched healthcare services – everyone will remain on high alert.
This outbreak comes after almost two-years of pandemic. Back in my final Insurance Business America editorial of 2020, I wrote about the term ‘unprecedented’ and how it was being used in almost every context related to COVID-19. While the coronavirus pandemic will be remembered in its entirety as an unprecedented event, I think we’ve now gone past the stage where everything related to the pandemic is unprecedented.
The insurance industry is heading into 2022 on the back of 21-months of pandemic learning. Moving forward, it’s unlikely that the coronavirus pandemic will conjure up any new challenges (other than variants) so insurers should be well placed to march forward and continue delivering best-in-class products and services to clients, while also innovating, digitalising, and transforming their businesses.
Work-from-home is the perfect example. Some countries are reintroducing remote work requirements to try and curb the spread of the Omicron variant. This should not be a problem for the insurance industry as it seems to me that insurers have got remote work down to a tee. There’s been no major drop in employee performance, as some naysayers predicted at the start of the pandemic. In fact, insurers worldwide have possibly even become more efficient over the past two years with the help of new operational technology and communication tools.
Through the COVID period, there’s been tons of affirmative action from the insurance industry around digitalisation, product development (for existing and emerging risks), and the advancement of policies and procedures around key issues like diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), and environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks.
Despite the unprecedented challenges triggered by COVID-19, the industry has clearly kept on dancing, and I see no reason why that should stop in 2022.
In fact, many of the major trends point towards strong growth opportunities for the coming year. Just look at the explosion of attention on cyber risk and the universal need (thanks to the fact that almost everyone has an internet footprint these days) to transfer that risk with appropriate insurance solutions. That’s going to continue to be a huge area of growth for 2022.
Increased attention on climate change, the transition to net-zero, and the urgent need to get a better grip (with the help of data, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning) on natural catastrophe exposures, also present major opportunities for the insurance industry. And finally, when the pandemic finally dies away, insurers will play a key role in enabling recovery and nursing economies and industries back to health.
All of these things (and many others not mentioned) are positive opportunities for the insurance industry, and, in my opinion, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis should not hold the industry back. Insurers have proven that they’re a resilient bunch, and they’re more than deserving of telling customers: Everything will be alright.
That’s why I’m feeling 2022. I’m excited about what lies on the horizon, and from the entire Insurance Business team, we’d like to say thank you to our readers, contributors and advertisers for your continued support through 2021. Stay safe, enjoy the holiday season, and just keep dancing.