This Week in Post: Extinction and distinction

tyrannosaurus rex

This week I took my toddler to see the roaring animated T-rex at the Natural History Museum. “Raaa!” she growled, before wimping into her father’s arms, unaware dinosaurs are actually extinct.

Also facing extinction are commercial brokers if they fail to evolve into business advisers within the next decade, the Chartered Insurance Institute has warned. And personal lines broking looks to be suffering too as, Swinton announced this week it would likely cut 900 jobs as it is reviewing whether to close 84 of its high-street branches by the end of the year. It explained that most of its clients are now buying policies on the phone or online. However, digital channels haven’t stopped other brokers from operating a branch network. For a different reason, but with similar consequences, Towergate placed 133 jobs under consultation as it is restructuring its finance operation.

For a deeper look into the current state of the broking market, read Will Kirkman’s feature on the weight of regulation, and its impact on competition and innovation. While brokers have been complaining about the Financial Conduct Authority, the FCA published this week its first data set on complaints regarding financial services since new rules came into force last June. Find out which five firms in the insurance industry were the most complained about in the second half of 2016.

Ahead of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association annual conference in Manchester, also check out this blog post by Ecclesiastical’s Adrian Saunders on how brokers could improve their reputation. One firm that hasn’t managed to do that, despite changing its name, is Watchstone, formerly Quindell. Its CEO Indro Mukerjee announced today it would be broken up and sold piece by piece.

In other news, Hastings reported an increase in gross written premiums as the discount rate cut increased prices across the market. The insurer said it was benefiting from an influx of new business through price comparison sites. After the whiplash reforms were shelved last week, the AA has warned motor premiums would continue to skyrocket. And ERS has calculated they would rise by up to 29% by January 2018.

Another road danger is highlighted by Mark Hawksworth from Cunningham Lindsey, who points out that driverless vehicles will be vulnerable to hacking. For even scarier stories on the rise of the machines, read Rosie Quigley’s feature on robot insurance, as European institutions are debating whether to grant robots a form of ‘electronic personhood’. She also took time to interview Neil Clutterbuck, the new chief underwriting officer at Allianz, who explains how the insurer is engaging with start-ups to gauge new ways of thinking. And for a behind-the-scenes account on disruption, check out the Diary of an insurtech start-up, whose second episode takes you to Silicon Valley.  

This bank holiday weekend, I’ll travel a little bit closer, perhaps to an urban farm, so my little one can practice her animal noises. At the moment, her sheep go “Raaa!” too!

Enjoy the read and the long break!

Cecile Brisson, features editor

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