Remote working and marine insurance: a tidal wave of opportunity

By Caroline Hurst - December 02, 2020

2020 has seen monumental change. With the country emerging from its second national lockdown, our daily working practices are unrecognisable compared to last year. Lloyd’s of London, like many other organisations, worked tirelessly to create a Covid-secure working environment. It led to the reopening of the underwriting floor in September following the first nationwide lockdown, implemented in March. Lloyd’s initially implemented a weekly rota, dedicating one day per week to individual lines of business. However, as the second lockdown took hold they limited access to the underwriting floor to just one day a week for all lines of business.

We spoke to John Miklus, Chair of the IUMI Education Forum and President at the American Institute of Marine Underwriters, Colin Gillespie, Director – Loss Prevention at North P&I Club, and Daniel Creasey, Managing Director at Cannon Events, organisers of Marine Insurance London to get their perspectives on the opportunities presented by remote working and digitalisation. Five main themes emerged.

 

Blueprint Chapter 3

 

Greater efficiency 

John praised the marine insurance community for their resilience and flexibility in adapting to remote working whilst continuing to write business and settle claims.

Online file sharing and virtual meetings have helped many employees speed up processes and increase productivity. Remote working has forced us all to move away from paper based manual processes in favour of digital, something the industry has previously drawn-out. Last year, professionals would haul armfuls of paperwork through the underwriting floor daily. Imagine the amount of manual work and rekeying that went with all that paperwork. It’s now unlikely many imagine the underwriting floor will ever return to such practice post Covid-19.

 

Sustainability

Many finance teams have seen cost savings associated with remote working. For many, the significant savings made due to reductions in travel and entertainment will inform future strategy planning and company expense policies.

With the recent publication of Blueprint Two from Lloyd’s, there is a focus on reducing unnecessary operating expense from within the value chain to drive greater profitability. A combination of remote working with essential travel could therefore drive competition within the market.

 

Mental health awareness

In an industry where people are at the heart, it’s unsurprising that we have seen a real focus on employee wellbeing in recent months. Colin shared information on new initiatives launched at North P&I Club this year which are designed to encourage time out for exercise classes and informal catch ups. We at Concirrus added a dedicated stream of new social activities to ensure our culture was maintained. There’s been a real focus on mental health awareness across the globe and this presents an opportunity to build greater resilience and support within all teams for the future.

 

Knowledge share and professional development

John reported that the AIMU saw significant increases in registrations for online courses during the height of the global pandemic. Many organisations showed their ongoing support for professional development by offering previously chargeable courses free of charge. The Concirrus leadership team took it as an opportunity to set about an internal competition around innovation, as well as dedicated self-development time. 10% of our entire working week is now dedicated to learning and development.

Online events and new digital tools have encouraged knowledge sharing within organisations. For several years, the InsurTech community has spoken about the importance of leveraging internal knowledge to differentiate within an increasingly competitive market. With side-by-side coaching for junior members of staff taken off the table, the need to leverage internal expertise and data has accelerated the process.

 

Innovation

Finally, through digitalisation and a shift from covering risk to preventing risk, leading organisations are committing to innovation. We’re already seeing new, fully digital entrants to marine insurance, with incumbents exploring new services that cater to a changing market. With the traction expressed by firms like Ki and Lemonade, organisations that opt out of digital transformation will likely be swept out with the tide.

 

What do traditional face-to-face engagements now look like

Events have always been an important part of the industry calendar. Some organisers have chosen to postpone face-to-face events, whilst innovative organisations such as IUMI and Marine Insurance London moved their events online. Recognising the need for continued engagement and the need to facilitate networking, Daniel at Cannon Events hosted several successful marine insurance webinars from April onwards. They have experimented with a couple of platforms that offer networking opportunities alongside webinar content, helping the community connect. Next week, between 8th and 10th of December, Cannon Events will be host the first fully virtual Marine Insurance London. Concirrus’ first online roundtable takes place on Tuesday 8 December at 5pm GMT, followed by a keynote on Wednesday 9 December, discussing ‘How digitalisation is empowering a virtual marine insurance community’. Don’t miss out, register today using the links below!

 

What's next?

Remote working has provided the industry with several opportunities, however, there are a few activities that require a more effective digital solution.

Collaboration during online meetings has been challenging for everyone, creativity can feel diminished when using video technology, something Colin highlights in the interview. Technical stress is a real issue and one that’s not likely to disappear for some time.

Whilst some services have seen the introduction of technology and digital tools this year, there are some roles that cannot be done remotely. Claims, salvage, and rescue services all still require in-person expertise to best serve the community.

In an industry where innovation is key, we’re likely to see new solutions to these challenges soon. The resilience that the community has shown throughout 2020 will re-energise the market, helping it emerge stronger than before.

Read the full interview with John Miklus, Colin Gillespie and Daniel Creasey in our Beyond Covid: The Marine Insurance Business Resilience Blueprint.

Don’t miss out on this year’s Marine Insurance London online event - register today!

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