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I have advised many of the world's largest insurers and reinsurance companies on managing risk and identifying key trends.

Insurance is as fundamental to a stable and prosperous society as banking, hospitals and schools. Yet more than 3 billion people have never heard of insurance, do not know how it works, and have no idea how to get hold of it.

Expect rapid growth, therefore, of basic insurance in emerging markets, targeted mainly at the emerging middle class. 

Health insurance will lead the way, after insurance types that people are forced by law to buy, such as motor insurance. Expect a boost in many nations in sales of life or health products, encouraged by tax rebates, especially where they are structured to contain an element of saving. 

Many who are unbanked today will gain their first insurance cover using a smartphone, or through micro-loans groups and savings associations.

EU retail insurance dominated by home and motor

Most insurance sales in the EU will continue to be cover for homes or vehicles, with travel and life insurance following behind. Expect savage online competition from so-called aggregator sites that display competing quotes for the same risks from up to 300 different companies.

Price Comparison sites of various kinds are now being used by 85% of all people who use the web in the UK. These sites are already seizing over 40% of the general insurance market in countries like the UK and we can expect a similar pattern in many other developed nations by 2024.

Insurers will be able to win sales without offering the lowest price, but only by persuading customers of the value of a ‘favoured’ brand, to pay out when there is trouble, to handle a claim rapidly and sensitively.

Price comparison means fines for loyalty - and deception

Aggregators will provide a very precise mathematical tool for marketers to measure their own brand value.

If the cheapest quote from an unknown company is $150, but the customer selects the third one down the list, which is a well-known brand offering a price of $230, then we know that the ‘added’ value of the brand to that person is precisely $80.

European insurance companies often offer very low prices for new customers, making their profits in the following years by increasing prices for their loyal customers.

This is a terrible thing as based on a deception - most customers expect to be rewarded for loyalty not fined for it.

It means that anyone working in a call centre is at risk of being swept up into unethical practices, into deception.

Take a 75 year old man phoning up because he cannot understand why for the third year running his premium has increased by 20%.  The call centre person has two choices:

1.  Read the script - "I'm sorry but premiums in the industry have risen because of high claims last year"

2.  Tell the truth - "We have a policy to ramp up premiums for anyone who is foolish enough or lazy enough to stay as a loyal customer.  The truth is that you need to cancel and go with another company and when you return next year you will probably get a massive discount."

I have warned many companies for years about this ethical issue, and was not surprised therefore that the UK regulator took steps to outlaw such practices in 2020.

In the meantime, in other nations, expect growing numbers of customers to switch companies every year – to whichever insurance company is the most willing to throw money away with such unsustainably low pricing.

Why many more insurers will detach from banks

Many banks experimented a decade ago with their own insurance companies, hoping to ‘cross-sell’ insurance products to existing customers, but in most cases the results were disappointing.

Most insurers will remain independent of banks, with partnerships and syndicates but all held at arms’ length. This is even more likely in future with different and complex regulatory requirements for each.

Re-insurance will be a vital part of the future of all large insurers, backed by huge corporations like SwissRe and MunichRe.

These companies will be taking views on every trend and Wild Card on this website, how they interact, what it all means for, say, business disruptions over the next decade in a particular industry, or for the risks of New Orleans being hit by another huge hurricane, or Russia invading Latvia.

It's why I find working with insurance companies so fascinating. 


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