Editors' Cuts

The CEO View and What it Means for You

Carrie Burns
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 17, 2013

While it can always be worse, the state of the P&C industry isn’t great, and the immediate reaction that no one really wants to act on is raising rates. Earlier this week at the Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum in New York, this and Superstorm Sandy were at the heart of conversation at the CEO panel, which included CEOs from The Hartford, Lloyd’s, The Motorists Insurance Group, Munich Re, State Farm and XL Group.

As usual, lessons are learned during catastrophes. For all on the insurance panel at the event, working through Sandy elicited a number of action items—addressing mitigation, improving relationships with agents, and innovating and educating.

“There’s no bigger crisis in the industry than with creativity and innovation,” said panelist Michael McGavick, XL Group CEO. "We have to get our heads around innovation; the product set is getting stale.”

Liam McGee, The Hartford CEO and also a panelist, agreed that innovation is needed. But more importantly, the industry needs to improve the relationship with agents. And to do that, insurers need to educate the agent and the consumer. McGee said that Sandy demonstrated the importance of educating entrepreneurs about what's covered by their insurance. “We, along with our distribution partners, need to focus less on product pushing and more on educating,” he said.

The panelists agreed: technology is a necessity in doing so.

The CEOs comments echo a study Joe McKendrick highlighted in his blog from mid-2012. For the study, IBM interviewed 1,700 CEOs (147 represented the insurance industry), and discovered that current technology initiatives and investments center around the customer — identifying customer insights, improving the response time to market needs and improving the understanding of customer needs.

In McKendrick’s blog, IBM’s Lee Han Tjioe says, “Customer focus for insurance CEOs means getting everybody involved: employees, for whom flexibility and communicativeness become the most important personal traits, partners, including agents and brokers, and finally the CEOs themselves—68 percent of insurance CEOs see customer obsession as the key characteristic that a successful CEO needs.”

I’m not sure the CEOs on Tuesday’s panel are obsessed, but it’s good to see that they’re in tune and open to learning from experiences. What have you learned over the past three months since Sandy?

Carrie Burns is editor-in-chief for Insurance Networking News.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Carrie by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. She also can be reached at carrie.burns@sourcemedia.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

Comments (1)

There's a lot of talk about mitigating weather-related CAT risk, but I'd love to know what insurers are doing to help their customers adapt to it? This means a lot more than instructing commercial clients on better buildings, or a greener footprint.

Posted by: patricia.speer | January 18, 2013 2:16 PM

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