Why COVID-19 has made insurance buyers more selective: Airmic chair

15-09-2020

Why COVID-19 has made insurance buyers more selective: Airmic chair

Tracey Skinner, Airmic

Timing of renewals is also a concern, says Skinner ahead of Airmic Fest.

In the face of the hard market that has followed COVID-19, insurance buyers are now focusing far more on the core of what they really want to buy, according to Airmic chair Tracey Skinner.

“It is a case of buying what you can afford rather than what you had, and making some really difficult choices,” she said.

“For those of us lucky enough to have a captive, there is certainly far more use of that today than there was before, and for those that can be a bit more bullish and take on more self-insurance captive or not captive-related that is becoming an option.

“It could be as simple as taking rather aggressive deductibles, or it could be just choosing to completely self-insure a risk from end to end.”

Skinner added that a frustration currently facing insurance buyers is the timing of renewals.

“The thing that worries everybody at the moment is how last-minute the renewals seem to be,” she said.

“Everything goes to the wire; if anything could be done to stretch that out, it would be far better for everyone.”

Skinner sees room for improvement when it comes to keeping insurance buyers informed of any upcoming changes.

“It feels such a suppliers’ market at the moment, you feel almost humble to ask for any support, but early warnings of changes would be useful,” she said.

“If we know what is coming up, we can take greater steps to steer around it and create a more comfortable situation. As always, on this side of fence we are small teams who are very focused on what happens day to day, and we need as much warning as possible.”

“Everything goes to the wire; if anything could be done to stretch that out, it would be far better for everyone.”

People risk
One issue that has been amplified by the COVID-19 situation is people risk. A key area of focus for Skinner in her role as chair of Airmic will be to look specifically at this, working to bring the departments that address people risk together for a more joined-up approach.

“My focus is on bringing together something that normally feels a bit siloed in way it’s managed,” she said.

“You get the risk managers and insurance managers concentrating on the hazard side of people, keeping them safe and out of harm’s way and making sure they do their job safely, and then you get HR focusing on health and wellbeing.

“It’s time for those silos to come together and for us to look at people risk in an end-to-end fashion.

“For example, you’ve got to think about the mental health aspects of risk, how that can affect employee engagement, how that can help drive behaviour and how that behaviour can then drive the hazard risk there is complete connection between the two, even though they are often siloed.

“There is a big opportunity to bring them together and look at the bigger picture of people risk.”

There is currently a strong focus on the mental health side.

“This is probably driven by COVID-19 and the fact that remote working is fine for some but isn’t for others,” she said. “There’s a question of how we manage our teams to do what we can to assist in that respect.”

Distanced conference
Part of Skinner’s role as Airmic chair is to listen and respond to the views and needs of members. A key opportunity on the horizon is this year’s Airmic conference, which opens on September 22 in a new socially distanced online format. Skinner is keen to learn what attendees think of the new approach.

“I would like to understand how our stakeholders and partners feel about the new format and what could happen moving forward,” she said.

“Do we move back to the old format or get into a kind of hybrid arrangement where we have some formal engagement face to face and some virtual, to allow those who find it difficult to attend to have a sense of interaction?”

Skinner added that she welcomes the role of Airmic chair after benefiting from Airmic membership and involvement for many years.

“It is a challenge and an honour,” she said. “I’ve taken a lot from Airmic for the last 17 years that I’ve been an insurance buyer.

“Prior to that I was a broker, and moving from that to being an insurance buyer can be quite isolating: you are used to working in a collaborative fashion as a broker and then you move to an organisation where you have a small team and the buck stops with you.

“You can talk to your brokers, but they are suppliers, so to have an organisation like Airmic with thought-leadership and opportunities to network and know what others are doing is really helpful.

“This is my opportunity to give something back,” she concluded.

Airmic, Risk Management, Insurance, Reinsurance, Tracey Skinner, North America

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