Diary of an Insurer: EIS's Ian Betley

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Overcoming aches and pains from cricket, Ian Betley, general manager of EMEA and APAC at EIS, heads  to Dublin to consider how technology is transforming the industry and prepares for The Boss and The Piano Man.

Ian Betley


Creaked out of bed, sore from bowling a 12-over spell at Saturday’s cricket match, and equally emotionally sore from England’s second loss in the Ashes series.

My first job is to drop my daughter at the station. She always amazes me with her exuberance and enthusiasm for school. I’m sure I was never like that.

Mondays begin with my EMEA team Zoom call. There’s a busy week ahead with lots of travel, some critical client meetings and workshops. A series of planning sessions take place before our US colleagues awake, and the regular Monday calls with our North American support teams absorb the afternoon.

Between the meetings, I have a couple of home-admin tasks to complete, including the painful exercise of renewing my car insurance.

Despite my emailing to cancel, the incumbent had auto-renewed, and the new premium has nearly doubled, despite no claims.

Eventually, via the aggregators, loyalty overcomes price. I only need the policy for 10 months as the lease on my Polestar ends next April, but that’s just too complicated to even contemplate solving today. 

Of course, the Amazon delivery driver turns up during one meeting. Then there’s the joy of my Hello Fresh delivery where yet again, we forgot to select our preferences and have the ‘automated choice’.

Who on earth has cottage pie in sweltering July? I might need to pair it with a glass of red, even though Monday is occasionally strictly alcohol-free.



Up bright and breezy, preparing for travel later this afternoon. Looking forward to a week of meetings with customers and prospects. This is the part of the job I really enjoy. Starting today with a virtual workshop this morning and a demonstration of our technology to a European insurer. 

I find it intriguing that every country believes the way they do insurance is fundamentally unique to anyone else in the world. Sure, they all have their nuances, their slightly different processes and regulation, and of course, there’s a need for localisation and local integrations. 

That’s the value of modern technology. It can easily accommodate new requirements and adapt to regulatory changes. The test is how quickly you can adapt, and in many cases, create opportunity from new regulation rather than see it as just a compliance issue. 

Nevertheless, it was a good meeting with a fine tension between the desire for innovation and the resistance to change. Then I was off to the airport for my Dublin trip.

I enjoy travelling, but there’s always the stress of the pre-travel and exit experience when you land after a relatively small period of calm while on the plane. I feel sorry for the airlines, as third parties control their brand experience.

Manchester Airport’s parking, security and gate experience is poor, topped with the lounge being fully booked. 

When we arrived in Dublin, another plane was parked at our gate, so we were eventually herded onto buses, and then the queue at the taxi rank took longer than the actual flight.

As expected in Dublin, the taxi driver from the airport talked at me for 40 minutes, and by the time I arrived at my hotel, I was one of the family!



The hotel I’m staying at in Dublin is lovely, and a brief 15-minute stroll along the riverside to the IFSC, where I was attending the Instech.ie event on digital transformation. 

The Confederation of British Industry presented a report on how the insurance sector in Ireland was maturing in its digital experience.

The results were unsurprising in that most organisations had an optimistic view of their current position and a pessimistic view of their ability to change over the next few years, citing risk and legacy as the main issues. 

What was surprising was there was limited concern over market entrants or the future requirements of the customer as the market dynamics change. I think only one of the 44 companies interviewed showed the ambition to be fully digital, while those who knew the brand doubted their ability to do so.

The presentation on eSure’s transformation was well received: opened some eyes to the success it has been and the company’s ability to power forward and ‘fix insurance for good’.

The panel session that followed brought some great questions from the audience, and while there is a wide acknowledgement of the lack of pace of change in the industry, there was a real focus on how the insurers serve their customers better ‘in the moment of truth’ and ‘fulfil the insurance promise’. 

It is an industry that cares about its customers and its products, which ultimately are fully exposed at the point of claim. It’s also an industry that is highly collaborative, which I find very refreshing, and the combination of instech.ie and the community of collaborative insurance leaders will be great for the sector in Ireland.

The subsequent networking session was well attended – many attendees stuck around for an hour to dive deeper into industry chatter. If it hadn’t been a morning session, I could have seen it soon drifting into the pub.

I then had two rapid meetings in succession, one with the technology side of the insurer, where the real focus was how they create the right architecture to support an ecosystem and one on the business side, where in a finite market like Ireland, the focus was on customer centricity and being an insurance solution provider that considers customer lifetime value, rather than just being a product provider. 

It was a great discussion, as I love talking about the potential the insurance market has to be more aligned with the lifestyles of its customers and their families.

Across my family, we have 15 insurance policies provided by 13 different carriers. That tells me there is a real opportunity to build trust and loyalty through a more customer-centric approach. 

I’m late now, so it’s a rapid taxi back to the airport, an embarrassing blag through fast-track security, and I just make my flight to London.


Cast image of Disney’s 1967 animated film The Jungle Book

After a quick ‘dry-run’ last night, our EIS team of experts from the UK, Ireland, and North America congregated at the client site, ready for the day’s workshop. It is refreshing to be face-to-face and invaluable to be in an environment where everyone can openly contribute. 

There is so much more to be gained by in-person meetings, as you can really focus on what’s important to the team rather than what’s important to the loudest person on Zoom. 

The sessions are fast and furious, with over a dozen people participating. As is the norm, the meeting room technology failed, and a combination of workarounds and some on-site technical assistance enabled us to get through.  

I always find these workshops totally fascinating, and you always see the natural tension between business and IT. When talking about transformation, the participants are generally in one of three camps. 

  1. They want to do what they do today with the new technology.
  2. They want to fix what they can’t do today with the new technology.
  3. They want to think forward and reinvent, without constraint, with technology as the enabler. 

Striking the balance is difficult. People naturally base their ideas on what they do today because they don’t know what they don’t know, and the unknown can be intimidating, even to the most resilient among us.  

I reflected on the presentation the day before. One key message was that you cannot look at transformation as just a technology replacement. It must also be viewed as a transformation/reinvention of the organisational culture, behaviour and ‘ways of doing things’.

Otherwise, you end up replacing a 15-year-old horse with a five-year-old horse when you really need and could have a Tesla. 

Overall, the day has gone well from a professional perspective and from the perspective of helping establish closer camaraderie with team members. 

To cap it off, I rewarded my colleague from Denver with an evening of greyhound racing and a pub singer whose sole repertoire was the soundtrack to The Jungle Book. It was surprisingly brilliant.


Bruce Springsteen live at Hyde Park

Woke up singing ‘I want to be like you-oo-oo’, with the prospect of a morning of Zoom meetings, followed by a quick visit to the office. I check into a new hotel and prepare for a weekend of Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen at Hyde Park.

Friday’s joys, tackling a 1700 (yep, you read that right: 1700) question request for proposal due to be submitted next week.

Then a discussion with a client who is issuing an RFP, very apologetically, in the first week of August while they are all on holiday. Finally, I arrange a reference call (and demonstration) for another. Another good example of great collaboration in the insurance sector.

I then have a couple of regular calls with the team to thank them for their efforts  over the last week. I know a few will be spending some hours working over the weekend. I try to discourage it, as over the last 25 years of work and work-related travel, I understand the importance of family time and not missing it.

Plus, I feel guilty as I’m now off to Hyde Park with my wife for a weekend of music, extortionately priced beer, and gingerly treading around overflowing toilets. 

We do make significant sacrifices in service quality in the pursuit of enjoyment.

Ian Betley is general manager of EMEA and APAC at digital insurance platform EIS

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