Veronica Grigg, president for Asia, Crawford & Company
16 November 2021Insurance

How Asia is a hotbed for diversity in the insurance industry

It is important to remember when talking about Asia that the continent is not a single entity, but a region of diverse countries, cultures, faiths, and languages.

This was an idea that Veronica Grigg, president for Asia at Crawford, was keen to point out to Intelligent Insurer before joined the 1.1 Club, the online and on-demand platform for one-on-one interviews with industry leaders.

It is this breadth of societies that has proved challenging to insurers over the years. “If you look at Asia it’s not one country but a series of them. Its geographic reach is significant, and it’s so large and so diverse with some of the world’s most-populous countries,” Grigg said.

This, she said, has meant the predominance of one approach over the decades. “Traditionally, it’s been boots on the ground in the event of a claim, a catastrophe, or a weather-related event. That’s not possible at the moment, but we still need to have a local presence and to be able to service and support that presence around community orders and restrictions.”

“One thing that sets apart the best-in-class companies is empathy.” Veronica Grigg, Crawford

It is no secret that the insurance industry has seen real change during the COVID-19 pandemic and Asia, Grigg concedes, is no different. “We’ve had quickly to adapt and respond to the impacts from the pandemic and the challenges it’s presented in how we service and support our clients and policyholders. We’ve had to use technology to do that, along with a rethinking of our approaches.”

Despite these shifting sands when it comes to technology, Grigg says that qualities such as empathy, compassion, and understanding remain at the forefront of the insurance industry.

“I’ve been in this industry for 30 years and I think one thing that sets apart the best-in-class companies is empathy. The roles we have mean we’re dealing with situations that can be very challenging and, often, emotional.

“If you’ve ever had to make a claim, you want someone who’s going to listen to you and be empathetic while the problem is being solved. Empathy continues to be essential while we also need to understand that we have to be more flexible in these difficult times,” she explained.

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Crawford, said Grigg, has been keen to invest on the technology and data sides. Given that Grigg has been in charge for 18 months, despite three decades in the industry, she seems to have been pushing in her tenure to date to bring new blood into insurance, and to ensure these people progress.

“We’ve invested in a lot of digital online platforms. One thing I’ve been keen to oversee in my time has been our manager acceleration programme that brings people through the ranks. We’ve also been looking at improving the accreditation of our highly-skilled technical teams,” she said.

Data is a recurrent theme in the insurance sector. Talk to any of the myriad data companies that abound in this space and they will give you a lecture, usually along the same lines, of how the industry can and should be better at treating data as an asset.

Grigg does not give that lecture, but she does talk about how data forms some of the core of Crawford’s offering. “Our goal is to use it before, during, and after so that we get insights that are valuable to our partners. We partner with a lot of large corporates, particularly through our third-party administration business.”

That business, she said, was about providing claims services to these organisations.

“The concept of diverse, equitable, and inclusive is what we have to be in Asia.”

“It’s about making sure we can give sensible insights that better allow our customers to manage their insurance spend while having the focus they need, when and where they need it, regardless of location.”

The final issue Grigg proclaims a passion for is diversity, equity, and inclusion within the business, and she has appointed local leaders to head the company’s operations in their respective countries.

“We’ve made a real opportunity for people to see career paths they can start on, and be able to go into management. That’s if they invest in Crawford—that’s really important for me. We’ve appointed many women into senior roles,” she added.

Diversity, she said, is strength. “The concept of diverse, equitable, and inclusive is what we have to be in Asia because the region is the same. Our customers expect multilingual and different options for how they choose to operate with us. I’m delighted to say that we see ourselves as that in Asia.”

To view the full 1.1 Club interview click here

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