everywoman founder Maxine Benson gives her views on what will drive the future of insurance and how to increase diversity in insurance in 2020 and beyond
Maxine Benson MBE is co-founder of everywoman, whose clients include Accenture, EY, RBS, Barclaycard, Amazon and Facebook. everywoman is a global platform for women in business that drives positive change by empowering women to achieve their professional potential.
Along with industries worldwide, insurance is looking closely at the impact of Covid-19 and the inevitable changes that will follow.
In our recent everywoman Insurance Forum opening webinar, David Howden, founder and global CEO of Hyperion Insurance Group, whilst acknowledging the challenges, pointed to the crisis as a positive force for change.
Howden cited the 2008 global financial crash that resulted in a shift away from “group think” that had generated poor decision making.
Twelve years on he believes Covid-19 will focus companies on sustainability, ensuring they build stronger, more diverse and inclusive businesses that will perform better as a result.
Speed of change
Matthew Griffin is one of the world’s foremost futurists and CEO of the World Futures Forum.
He is currently tracking emerging technologies and their impact on global culture, industry and society, helping organisations ideate the future of their products and services.
He cites the growth of telehealth as a sector the industry should watch carefully.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, telehealth has made huge strides in the race to manage mental health and physical well-being via AI.
Advances mean that technology can now monitor our blood pressure and heart rate, even spotting signs of depression and PTSD from our computer screens, identifying the symptoms before they trigger major health consequences.
He also predicts that vehicle insurance will be disrupted as autonomous cars prove to be safer than humans and electric vehicles prone to fewer breakdowns.
Similarly, in the home, AI has the potential to prevent disasters such as burst pipes, flooding or fire, reducing risk and ultimately premiums.
Griffin also sees growth of the me-conomy and the personalisation of the consumer experience as interesting areas.
Advances in AI are allowing the insurance industry to get closer to the customer than ever before, creating highly personalised experiences that will improve claims turnaround and fundamentally change the underwriting process.
However, there is a balance to be struck between the volume of data needed to meaningfully personalise the experience and personalisation that feels, well, just that little bit too personal.
Ultimately AI needs a high volume of data to work, but it must help and not hinder the customer experience.
Diversity and inclusion
everywoman’s research shows that gender diversity impacts everything from recruitment to investment and while many companies have started putting policies in place to address this, a recent survey showed that there is a perceived gap between what is said and what is practically done.
Whilst the lockdown enforced working from home, it has also obliged businesses around the world to explore workplace trends.
According to BT’s principal innovation partner, Dr Nicola Millard, what has become apparent is that digital solutions are a real leveller for diversity and inclusion.
Parents can better juggle work and family commitments whilst disabled employees no longer contend with challenging infrastructure or commutes.
The flexibility that remote working offers means that businesses can benefit from the insights and expertise of employees in different countries, continents and cultures.
That said, Dr Millard believes working from home is rarely successful as a full-time solution and businesses need collaboration to be fully operational.
The solution is likely to be a hybrid combining office life and working from home with more localised and informal locations for employees to come together.
Sustainability and diversity
At everywoman we’ve been fortunate to work with industry leaders to create our second everywoman Insurance Forum, a six-month global digital programme running now until December 2020.
Offering access to international business leaders, exclusive leadership development programmes, practical support and training along with discussion, debate, networking and coaching, the forum aims to equip the insurance industry’s female talent, and their male colleagues, with skills and tools to both progress their own careers and build more balanced teams for greater innovation and productivity.
In doing so, we can increase the number of women in senior-level positions, which currently stands at just 20%.
If we are to take positives from the impact of this year’s pandemic it is that the seismic changes to the ways we work have potential to stimulate better business practice through sustainability and diversity.