Let’s get the platitudes out of the way first – BIBA 2016 was a fantastic event. Replete with a who’s who from within our industry, and some notable guests from outside, the conference was a showcase of all that’s positive with the insurance world, while providing a forum to debate – with considerable vigour at times – some of the key issues and challenges we face.

Reasons to be cheerful

The stand-out message we came away from the conference with is that, despite rumours to the contrary, the schemes market remains the place to be.

We’ve spoken before about how there seems to be a perception in the industry that the market has gone a bit stagnant, that it’s the same old, same old schemes being sold year after year and making it ever more difficult for brokers to find an edge.

It’s a view to which we at SchemeServe DO NOT subscribe.

And it was entirely gratifying to discover among the stands, delegates and key-note speakers who came together at BIBA that the truth about the schemes market is considerably more positive.

In fact, what we took away from the conference was that the industry is currently full of great ideas and plenty of innovation. New ideas and products presented that, in some cases, were so good, so on the pulse of current customer needs that we couldn’t believe that they hadn’t already been created.

It’s all in the niche

As we moved through the conference hall, listening to the thoughts of fellow delegates and watching with interest the different presentations and displays, the pervading view was that less and less attention was being places on those older ‘vanilla’ schemes.

Moving beyond the generic is the key to success in the market; with innovation and creativity focusing on the niche schemes. Specialist areas of insurance for brokers’ to target; each one meeting a specific customer need.

Brokers’ need to differentiate themselves, and customer-targeted creativity within their schemes is the order of the day. It’s about looking at the market, finding customers who have a real issue, a genuine area of vulnerability; and tailoring a product to address this need.

Such as flooding.

Just about everyone in the country will know how devastating the floods of recent years have been to great swathes of the UK. Every region, from Cornwall to Cumbria, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have all, at some time or other been hit by flooding that’s simply destroyed people’s homes and possessions.

So bravo for BIBA for getting behind the new Flood Re scheme aimed at directly addressing those people who’ve been left struggling for coverage against future flood risks.

It’s an example of the industry reacting to current real world issues, delivering a product that has genuine value for broker and customer alike. And a product with an ethical value, hopefully meeting the need of hundreds of thousands of people left highly vulnerable from previous floods.

Embracing technology to drive new schemes

At the outset of the conference, BIBA Chairman David, Lord Hunt of Wirral, delivered his views on how new technology would play an important role in the future of the industry.

We couldn’t agree more.

As an industry, the insurance world has perhaps been somewhat slow to embrace the full potential that technology can deliver. It might be a wary distrust or an inclination to stay true to the old pen and paper methods.

The world, however, has moved on, and it was good to hear acknowledgement of this sentiment at the conference.

The point about using technology is that it should deliver value to the business, improving processes and increasing productivity. It most certainly shouldn’t be something to distrust or seen as a hindrance.

Whether insurers, brokers, underwriters or MGAs, the impetus for future success in the schemes market will be on the innovation of new products. Becoming bogged down in admin, reporting and all those other ‘scary’ processes, detracts from the primary aim.

Automating these processes is key to getting new schemes to market, quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. From the collating of data to enhance risk management, to marketing your products across a variety of platforms, communicating with your clients and delivering reports that have real-world meaning, technology is the vehicle with which to drive these innovative new products to market.

The message we took to BIBA 2016, and the belief we take into the future is a simple one. Innovation supported by tailored, industry-specific technology is the way forward for our sector. Because there’s a world of opportunity in the schemes market for those ready to innovate, evolve with the times and embrace the digital age.

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