Time to restore the balance | Insurance Business UK
Rumours around the future of the Lloyd’s underwriting room, and the iconic Richard Rogers’ building itself, seem to be a daily occurrence these days, driven in part by the insurance market’s uncertainty around the future of how business will be done going forwards. Will it be face to face, office-based, or agile, flexible, hybrid or home working? And what will the balance be if there is one?
This uncertainty of vision, as the UK, and hopefully, eventually, the world, edge out of the pandemic and into endemic, is reflected across the insurance market from the major conurbations through to more rural locations. There cannot be any business that has not paused for thought over the renewal of their premises’ leases, contract wordings for new recruits, and how to manage a hybrid model of working longer term. And of course, trying to second guess what brokers will want, what customers will want and what their own staff will want.
Over the past 18 months, MGAs, with their more dynamic business models and modern technology, have been able to adapt and respond to brokers’, customers’, and capacity providers’ needs throughout the pandemic, maintaining service standards. And of course, were able to adapt quickly and embrace agile working.
The insurance market, however, is just that, a market, and there is a danger that if all the various parties in the insurance chain do not take the same route, then the result will be dislocation and confusion in a system that is already riddled with inefficiencies. There is a real need for the central insurance business hubs, along with regional and smaller offices to all be on the same page. Brokers, MGAs, insurers, and capacity providers – as well as the multitude of service providers do not operate in a vacuum either and need to be in sync.
In the autumn, the insurance market definitely started to find a new rhythm as restrictions, albeit temporarily, receded. And despite the recent Omicron and Plan B driven set-back, the UK is now looking to be on track to be able to, if it so desires, operate without any major restrictions.
But as we head towards almost two years since the first lockdown – yes, it has been that long – the challenge is to find a way to work together and drive a full reset of the insurance market eco-system. But what will and should this look like, and what is the right balance going forwards? Will face to face broking return as the dominant form of interaction? Will underwriters and insurers return to their offices either via mandate or voluntarily, or will the right to work from home and remotely win the day in the corporate world? Will there be a division between how the big US-owned brokers, insurers and reinsurers operate and their European and UK counterparts? Will we see the return of a physically thriving market, the streets and cafés of major insurance hubs teeming from 8am through to 6:30pm?
A reset of the insurance market is an opportunity to shape how it will operate for the next 2-3 years, if not for longer. To do this quickly, and robustly, needs the whole insurance community to come together and move together as one, or at least with some degree of consistency and clarity, and ensure the market returns to a position of providing, at the very least, consistent, and satisfactory levels of service.
The MGAA is ready and willing to be involved in helping drive this conversation, but, with the clock ticking, the time is now.