Ripe: Where is the Insurance Industry Heading?

Paul Williams, CEO of leading insurance company Ripe, shares expert insight with InsurTech Digital about the current landscape, and what the future holds

Paul Williams is CEO of Ripe, the company providing easy-to-buy, simple-to-understand, jargon-free and excellent value insurance. First launched in 1998, the ever-growing and award-winning company has a portfolio of specialist insurance products, looks after over 350,000 policyholders and sees more than 3 million website visitors per year. 

Williams sat down with InsurTech Digital to discuss the insurance landscape — as insurance companies navigate challenging economic waters and technological upheavals, soaring inflation, geo-political developments and climate pressures, what impact did day-to-day operations see?

Whilst he claims that optimism is in the air as technology improves operations and gives policyholders a better customer experience, challenges still lie ahead for both large and smaller industry players. 

The coming years promise to continue to shake up the insurtech and wider insurance landscape, including the entrance of new players, new technology and new regulations, while mergers and acquisitions will see competitors join forces with expanded offerings and revitalised energy. 

How will growth acceleration, including deals and expansions, impact the industry?

As larger insurance businesses look to accelerate growth, 2024 will see blockbuster deals in the market to drive shareholder returns through cost synergies. The potential change of government by the end of 2024 may additionally lead to tax changes, resulting in a bumper year for deals as vendors look to realise their equity before any changes.

We will continue to see further US firms, like AJ Gallagher, Brown & Brown, Acrisure and Assured Partners, making inroads across the Atlantic into the UK insurance market via mergers and acquisitions. However, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues to bear down on the industry, deals must prioritise delivering fair value for customers, or risk being caught out. Premium finance is also likely to come under the spotlight in the coming months and years, with the regulator hinting that existing providers are charging unreasonable rates to customers.

How are regulation shifts impacting insurance?

The Consumer Duty, which came into force July 2023, promises to be the start of a wider clampdown on the industry. The FCA’s recent actions point to further dissatisfaction with the industry’s current practices, despite last year’s regulation setting a higher standard of consumer protection in financial services.   

The FCA will continue to target businesses where it sees dysfunction or poor outcomes for consumers, such as multi-occupancy property owners, GAP insurance and other specific product lines. Insurance providers failing in this area will be punished, and brokers must ensure the right product governance and controls to effectively manage these risks. 

How will AI impact the future of insurance?

As the opportunity to integrate AI into businesses enables tasks to shift from human to machine, cross-industry collaboration will be key to successfully navigate the tech transition. The demand for deeper technical knowledge from the workforce will exponentially rise in the coming years but can be efficiently managed through a coordinated effort from insurers and industry organisations. 

Bodies such as the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), have an opportunity to step up and streamline the upskilling of technical talent, avoiding the risk of duplicate training within each company. By clearly identifying future needs, and constructing training programmes to meet these, insurance businesses can embrace the rising tide of automation. AI can also be an opportunity to update business operations to move staff into different roles, with AI taking over certain tasks and enabling staff to add value in other areas.  

With the speed of technological change accelerating, insurers will need to keep their foot on the gas to thrive, evolving in step with new technology and upcoming regulation.

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