Diary of an Insurer: Allianz Commercial's Olivia Baker

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Olivia Baker, head of motor trade at Allianz Commercial, contemplates the Automated Vehicles Bill and what this will mean for motor insurance, and makes the most of flexible working.

Monday

Olivia Baker, Head of Motor Trade, Allianz Commercial

After my 6am alarm, I start my day with a quick goodbye to my daughter and husband (leaving him to do the nursery run) and I head into our Guildford office.

What I have always loved about my role is that every day is different and, once settled in with my cup of tea, I review my calendar for the week and check any outstanding emails before updating my to-do list and try to fire off some urgent responses.

My first meeting of the day is with our underwriters on a large case renewal. This is quickly followed by a call with pricing to get an update on any changes. 

In the afternoon, I join our underwriting forum. This is not only a chance to get together with the other heads of account and regional underwriting managers but also an opportunity to hear updates from the rest of the business such as HR, IT and business regulations. 

These meetings are vital to shaping our priorities on the account. Hot topics on the agenda this week are Consumer Duty and The King’s Speech. Of particular interest to me is the Automated Vehicles Bill and what this will mean for motor insurance covers and the motor repair sector.

I finish the day with a check-in with my team to touch base on how things are going, movements and priorities for the coming week. This is an opportunity for the team to also share any good news or challenges they are facing and have an open discussion on anything they want the wider team’s thoughts on. 

I then clear a few more things off my to-do list before I head home in time for a goodnight cuddle from my daughter (although I do get to see her three more times before she agrees it is time for her to go to sleep).

Tuesday

Tuesdays are my turn to do the nursery run. As most of the team are in the office today, I then head over to Guildford.

I spend most of the morning chatting through a couple of referrals with the team and having a one-to-one with one of my senior underwriters. Wherever possible, I try to time my one-to-ones for when we are in the office. 

Multiracial business team having a meeting in a coffee shop
Photo: PixelsEffect

My team acts as a conduit for the rest of the business, so our catch-ups are so varied. One conversation could be about technical topics, such as pricing or wordings and covers, and the next could be about operations and training and development of our people. 

Making the most of some time at my desk, I take the time to review the latest motor trade account results, before joining a meeting with our portfolio steering analyst to dive into some of the findings in a bit more detail. This gives us an opportunity to discuss any trends and strategic actions we need to consider.

This afternoon, I head into a joint meeting with distribution and our regional teams to discuss everything customer, market and trading-related across all lines of the business. 

As usual, I end up leaving the office later than I should and make a dash for nursery pick-up.

Wednesday

Today, I am lucky enough to have the day away from my usual tasks to take part in a development programme. 

Remote working - Zoom or Teams meeting

This is the last session in a 14-month programme and is focused on self-reflection. 

While train strikes have put a stop to us meeting in London, the world of Teams still gives us the opportunity to share what we have taken from the overall experience and particularly what we have learnt from our work supporting local social enterprises on a business challenge. 

During the programme, I have realised how valuable that time away from my desk is to reflect about my leadership style and how to support delivery as a team.

It is on days like this that I realise how lucky I am working for a business that supports our development in these ways.   

Thursday

After another nursery drop off, I’m working from home today, which enables me to fit in a quick exercise session.

Feeling reinvigorated, I start the working day with a joint meeting with actuarial, claims, pricing and underwriting to share account performance and trends. 

Row of houses and parked cars

Today is with everyone involved in motor lines of business, but on other days we will have the same meeting with property and liability. As you can imagine, claims inflation continues to be a key topic of conversation around the table. 

Throughout the day, I juggle calls with ticking things off my to-do list. Teams messages also help the team stay connected while we are all working from home.

I get to finish the week with a meeting with the motor trade managers around the country. Discussions are focused around our strategy for the year and what trends we are seeing across the market and talk about how the motor trade sector is changing.  

Instead of logging off at the usual time today, I’m jumping on the Guildford CII’s Bi-monthly council meeting. Supporting on council for the past 13 years has been a great way for me to give something back while building a great network across different parts of the industry. 

We are currently in the run-up to our annual dinner, so a lot of the talk centres around entertainment and attendance numbers.

ibor-park-waters0814

Friday

With my daughter due to start school next September, I’m lucky enough to have flexible working that allows me to have every other Friday off so we can have mummy-daughter time. 

As winter is dragging on, I am desperately trying to steer her clear of the bugs in the local soft play and instead we tog ourselves up to brave the park with some nursery friends (and a much-needed coffee). 

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