Airmic 2014: Birmingham Bound

Birmingham bound road sign

With Airmic’s 2014 conference taking place in Birmingham, Post asked industry movers and shakers about which city hotspots they’ll be checking out and what they expect from this year’s event

What do you think will be the big talking points at Airmic this year?
Caroline Pritchard, head of customer, distribution and marketing, Zurich Global Corporate UK: Global insurance compliance. With the unveiling of Airmic’s global compliance database, this will be a key topic – particularly as customers are increasingly expanding their global footprint into emerging markets. Achieving efficacy of insurance contracts [will be another talking point] – we anticipate Airmic will produce a set of guidelines for insurance buyers on contract certainty, coverage certainty and claims certainty.

Dominic Fisher, senior manager, Deloitte Malta Enterprise Risk Services team: Cyber risk has moved up the corporate agenda and will be in focus.

Benedict Burke, senior vice-president, global markets, Crawford & Company: Cyber really has risen up the agenda this year. Organisations are facing an environment where risk and regulatory oversight are converging into a perfect storm. Once the new European Union data-breach rules come in, fines and penalties could be the least of a risk manager’s worries if they have to contain the fallout. This is part of the reason we got behind Airmic’s Roads to Resilience project; we wanted to support a campaign that highlights business continuity planning.

Terry Renouf,  partner, BLM: I am concerned the window of opportunity to introduce the Law Commission’s reforms to commercial insurance law is narrowing. It has been a long process of consultation and it would be a shame if the reforms to consumer insurance were not matched by reforms to commercial insurance, which are widely supported. We should be talking about that.

Susan Davies, managing director, Rushton International: I would imagine the continuing issues around cyber risks and big data will be hot topics this year.

Damien Duffy, interim managing director, corporate & speciality risk, Aviva: I am expecting plenty of discussion on three particular topics: the Law Commission’s Insurance Bill; regulation, including the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent publication on conflicts in broker models; and how customers, insurers and brokers can collaborate to more effectively shape the future of risk.

What do you hope to get out of Airmic?
Pritchard: The Airmic conference is the key event in the insurance calendar for us each year. It provides a perfect opportunity to speak face-to-face with risk managers and brokers – to share ideas, check out what the competition are doing and also hopefully have some fun at the same time.

Fisher: Build our network and find out more about what is happening at the cutting edge of risk management.

Burke: I’ll be discussing Crawford’s global third-party administrator offerings. Major loss is also an area I’m particularly interested in, having spent time in New Zealand after the Christchurch earthquakes and in Thailand after the floods. These two events taught us how to Be Cat Ready [the title of a Crawford report on catastrophe management]. We know disasters will happen but we are improving the way we
support customers.

Renouf: We have exhibited for a number of years, and the opportunity to catch up with clients and have a series of conversations and meetings that include everyone involved in risk is invaluable. The Ladies’ Networking Lunch has proved to be hugely popular and oversubscribed. BLM will be attending in force, leaving the BLM Lads Lunch much the poorer.

Davies: Catching up with current and new clients and brokers, and also showcasing developments in our services.

Duffy: I am really looking forward to hearing from existing and prospective clients about the issues that are of concern to them.

birmingham-city-centre-canalsWhat do you think of Birmingham as a location for the conference?
Pritchard: Birmingham is a great location for the conference – [the International Convention Centre is] central, easy to get to  with excellent transport links and is close to the city centre.

Fisher: It’s perfect for me. The ICC is an excellent venue and Birmingham itself has superb access and plenty of local attractions suitable for a meeting of this stature.

Burke: The proof for any venue is in the numbers really, but Airmic was tweeting before the conference that this could be a record year so things are looking good.

Renouf: Birmingham is big city with a history steeped in manufacturing and supported by the largest insurance community outside London.

Davies: It’s great. Very easy to get to for all parts of the country.

Duffy: It is a vibrant city in a perfect location, and [the ICC is] a great venue.

What is your view of the role of social media in risk management, and will you be tweeting from the conference?
Pritchard: We have set up a hashtag for the event, #ZurichAirmic2014, and will be tweeting our messages in both the run-up to and during the event. Social media is still very new in risk management terms compared with other industries. However, we see the long-term benefits it can have in terms of linking in with risk managers and brokers and providing quick updates – especially in times of emergency. Our colleagues in North America used Twitter to communicate emergency phone numbers and messages to customers during hurricane Sandy, and in cases such as this it can be a very beneficial tool.

Fisher: Social media is now an established part of the landscape for most organisations and can be an effective way for businesses  to communicate their values and ethos both internally and externally. The @financemalta Twitter account is very active, so I imagine it will feature some #airmic2014 status updates during the conference.

Burke: I expect I’ll have the urge to provide one or two status updates while I’m there. Speaking from a claims point of view, open-source data has a real role to play. My colleague Clive Nicholls [senior vice president, global markets] recently pointed out in a blog how Crawford is piloting software applications that utilise open-source data to provide adjusters with a much more accurate pre and post-loss comparison. If you imagine the scene following a catastrophe claim, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees, so to speak, and technology is going to play an increasing role in the way adjusters carry out their work.

Renouf: [Social media provides] a great opportunity to share views and quickly appreciate the burning issues. Yes we will be tweeting – @BLM_Law and #Airmic2014.

Duffy: It will undoubtedly come to the fore and the challenge for all of us is how insurers and buyers harness the opportunity for mutual benefit.

What Birmingham hotspots will you be checking out?
Pritchard: The conference is likely to be hectic between meetings and conference workshops, but we plan to fit in a proper Birmingham curry!

Fisher: I’m not sure it counts as a hotspot, but this will be my first chance to see the new Library of Birmingham, which is right next to the conference. I’ll also be doing some clothes shopping in the nearby city centre. For those new to Birmingham, I can recommend walks and barge trips along the canals by the ICC.

Burke: No visit to Birmingham would be complete without a visit to one of the famous Balti houses. I will be looking for recipe tips for Prawn Balti, as I am currently enjoying Indian cookery classes.

Renouf: The Jam House [for food, drink and live music] and the Balti Triangle.
Davies: Asha’s [Indian restaurant] and the Jam House are high on our list.

Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin?  
Pritchard: Led Zeppelin every time – Robert Plant, John Bonham, Whole Lotta Love – sorry Ozzy!

Fisher: As I’ve already seen Sabbath, I’d be delighted if you could organise Zeppelin for entertainment.

Renouf: Led Zep, but they are both brilliant.

Davies: Definitely Led Zeppelin.

Burke: I’m well known at Crawford for being the only person with an iPhone that contains precisely zero music! For the purposes of competition, I’ll go with Ozzy’s boys, as their accents are stronger.

Duffy: On the fence – Black Sabbath overall, but Stairway to Heaven is a favourite on the iPad. Don’t forget ELO and Ocean Colour Scene too.

What is the best thing to come out of Birmingham?
Pritchard: That’s a tough choice – Cadbury’s Chocolate, Dwight Yorke and Balti.

Fisher: JRR Tolkien and, of course, the vacuum cleaner – which was invented in 1905 in the Highgate part of town.

Burke: Any train to Liverpool.

A classic Mini carRenouf: The Mini – the car, not the skirt – is innovative and fun, although that could be said to apply to both definitions of the word.

Davies: Seeing as you mention it, Led Zeppelin.

Duffy: I’m a life-long Aston Villa fan, so there’s not much more to say.

How has regulation of this sector changed over the past 10 years?
Pritchard: There is no doubt the burden of regulation has increased for insurers and brokers. Zurich is supportive of activity that drives increased transparency in the market. Zurich Global Corporate predominantly serves complex multinational organisations and, as our customers seek to move into new territories, it is important they are confident they are compliant with local regulation, which can often be complex.

Fisher: Regulators have developed a growing appreciation of the importance of risk management and the distinction between real risk management and the ‘tick the box’ variety.

Burke: That’s a very broad question, but risk managers are exposed to a number of different regulations. Last year we had the new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which shifted the burden of liability claims. This year we’re likely to see those new Eureopan Union General Data Protection Regulations hit the market, increasing fees and decreasing the amount of time companies have to respond. A corporate risk manager really has their work cut out, particularly when you consider the fact that many of these regulations are increasingly international.

Renouf: The focus on the customer has created better products and a better service, but regulation is becoming a greater burden and will lead to additional cost that is going to outweigh the customer need for protection. This could stifle innovation as products become regulatory compliant but customer unfriendly.

This article was published in the 12 June edition of Post magazine.

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