As any mother does, from the day my son was born, I spend a lot of time trying to get him to talk. We did baby sign language, Monkey Music singing nursery rhymes and, of course, I read to him every night before bed.
Then he started to say words and sentences, and sing, and shout, and ask ‘why’ repeatedly. And as every mother learns, now I’m hard pressed to keep him quiet. It’s an early lesson we are all taught: communication is the key to getting what you want, when you want it and making your thoughts and feelings known.
For insurers, however, this doesn’t seem to be going well. For one, they are not telling women what flexible and welcoming employers they are, as revealed by the recent gender pay figures where insurance, and financial services more broadly, had a mean average of 26%, the worst of any sector.
Policy wordings are certainly not in plain English as the battle raging over who is liable for costs to replace Grenfell-style cladding on high-rise residential buildings across the country shows. Despite a high risk of fire, insurance wordings mean the current lack of “structural damage” to these buildings puts any claim outside of the terms of the insurance policy.
At the same time, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association is warning that firms taking out business interruption cover face a high risk of underinsurance. At the heart of the problem is the issue of insurers and insureds not speaking the same language. Firms often misinterpret the specific definitions of the terms used by insurers when selecting cover.
It’s no surprise then that as we revisited our State of the Broker Nation research, insurers came out poorly when reviewed for communication. And when we sought views from expert commentators on how customer trust could be returned to the sector, the issue of communication raised its ugly head again.
I’ve never met anyone working in insurance who doesn’t enjoy it. Statistics from the Association of British Insurers tell us that the sector is vital to the UK economy.
And the industry is working hard to welcome diversity and put the customer at the heart of the claims journey. Everyone in the sector seems to agree on this but the customers and the general public have no idea.
Putting competition aside and getting together to shout this message loud and clear would be a good starting point but it must be done right, otherwise it could just end up as the worst game of Chinese whispers ever seen.
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