BIBA 2022: White seeks to rally brokers with promise of beauty ahead

Biba CEO Steve White has warned the year ahead will be tough for the sector but that the hard yards the sector will need to make will lead to “beautiful places”.

Speaking in Manchester White said the world faced huge risks and that insurers were increasingly being asked to play a bigger role in the solutions.

“A horrific war broke out in Europe, with Russia invading Ukraine, leaving us all feeling impotent and questioning how such a thing could happen in 2022.

“And we have still been wrestling with COVID and the ongoing cost it has had to our health and the economy.

“And, just when the pandemic was downgraded and became part of everyday life…. another ever present threat hit, the huge rise in the living costs for the British people. 2022 already has a lot to answer for.”

White added: “A perfect storm of issues has hit. Rising prices and economic deceleration are being driven by a troubling gap between supply and demand and an increasingly difficult labour market. Logistics are a mess, with sky high transportation costs exacerbated by the war and increased regulations linked to the pandemic, Brexit and extreme climate change.”

He warned the challenges faced are causing resentment “where trust has left the system”.

“Trust has broken down throughout society in the last decade,” said White. “And we are left pushing back against a tsunami of mistrust.

“From angry lynch mobs on social media to the partial fracturing of the western world’s political establishment in recent years, this is an accepted fact of life, and it is not merely true of politics.”

However, he said the industry is “in the business of risk, and we must understand what is upon us and ahead of us to ensure we can plan properly”.

“Mistrust in the establishment, including the financial services industry is nothing new. But that mistrust occurring when living costs are rising, and resentment simmering, creates an exceedingly difficult operating environment.

“Those who will succeed are those with purpose who are consistent through their actions.”

White added: “Our unique role, both as the agent of the insurer, but more often, as the agent of the customer, gives us a clear viewpoint and expertise that can identify a solution that others cannot.”

He highlighted cybercrime as an area that has grown exponentially in recent years and one that will only become more of an issue in the next decade.

“We could now control our entire lives, economy, and grid via a remote web control. And we had never paused to think that, along the way, we were creating the world’s largest attack surface.”

“The work you are all doing to provide standalone cyber cover for businesses in your communities is hugely important. We are and can continue to play a positive role in helping others to sensibly manage their cyber risks.”

White said brokers’ “track record for doing the right thing allows us to credibly make the case for the innovation of regulation to ensure it evolves with the challenges of today and tomorrow.

“We are doing that on motor insurance including e-scooters and have done that with post Brexit changes to the Road Traffic Act to reverse the effects of the European Vnuk ruling.”

“My message for anyone out there who has been struggling is clear – you are not alone; you are not being judged, and we are here for you.”

He concluded: “2022 may be a difficult year for many. But as you go about your business at this conference, please remember that impact you and our insurance community are having.

“The American baseball coach Dave Martinez said that ‘often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places’. I truly believe that.

It may not be an easy year given the environment you are operating in, but I have no doubt your fundamentals will allow you to become even stronger.”

“You manage risk, but you do it in a way that seeks solutions not barriers.”

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