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Businesses that have sustained since the onset of COVID, have done so by swiftly and commendably adapting to a new normal, which within itself has exhibited many dimensions over the past eight months. True to human nature, we have all been asking a range of questions to determine what the next normal will entail, considering both scenarios and appropriate responses.

Rather than being bogged down by the uncertainties, our industry must actively look at ways in which to find and capitalise on the opportunities that will accompany this next normal.

Some “next normal” trends worth noting

More of the same…

Safety first

The value of social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene and wearing a mask are all very apparent. While the easing of restrictions has seen many people return to work, for many, this has been on a rotational basis for the safety of all parties concerned while also ensuring business continuity. In 2021, we will certainly see more of the same.

Cyber threats

That said, remote working continues to put businesses at an elevated level of risk for cyber-security breaches. Robust cyber-attack preventation and identification measures must be in place to safeguard businesses. Equally, there cannot be any complacency on the part of employees who are working remotely.

Videoconferencing services on the up and up

Unsurprisingly, user volumes across video conferencing services such as Zoom and MS Teams has skyrocketed since the onset of COVID. When movement was severely restricted, this was the go-to option - one that came close to replicating physical environment collaborations.

Now, despite significant relaxations in lockdown restrictions, more people are opting to continue with virtual meetings as much as is feasible. This trend will continue into 2021. Likewise, we can expect to see more physical events taking place but this is unlikely to be the norm with virtual platforms continuing to be favoured.

This reliance on technologies has further solidified the importance in having adequate digital capabilities to meet the demands of the new normal and our next normal.

The acceleration to digital transformation is inevitable

It has also become much more compelling for the insurance industry players to fast-track digital transformation to keep pace with changing customer needs and respond using platforms most convenient for our customer’s business. Functions such as risk mapping, quoting, initiating and processing claims, risk management, education around emerging trends, etc. all need to be facilitated using digital platforms that are accessible to customers and user friendly. Getting this right will contribute towards improving the customer experience and strengthening our relationships with policyholders.

The intermediary’s role expands

An informed mind and a safe pair of hands

The upside of this pandemic has been a growing and positive shift towards risk recognition and mitigation. Customers are placing greater value on the specialist knowledge and expertise of brokers, looking at you to be their safe pair of hands. This is the ideal opportunity to reaffirm your relevance and to encourage behaviours that enhance our mutual customers’ business resilience.

Now is the time for bold action

Our industry is at the cusp of its own metamorphosis, which has been accelerated by COVID. We all have vital roles to play in carving opportunities that allow each player to innovate, grow and mature in the context of a new way of thinking and devising solutions.

Now is the time to put our heads together, more comprehensibly understand the direction in which various sectors are moving (and subsequently our customers’ business) and actively shape what we would like the future of insurance to be. It is time to pull rabbits out of your hats and test concepts that may have earlier seemed too farfetched. You have the opportunity to truly become leaders in the industry by taking advantage of key capabilities that can set you apart from your peers.

Staying ahead of times

The evolution of our industry demands players who are aware of the most advanced technologies, processes and practices. Players who are able to accelerate the development of innovative products that bolster the insurance value chain’s relevance. Players who are progressive and consider new ways of conducting business. As we transition to a different model of working, where there is less face to face interaction, the responsibility to ensure the level of engagement remains unchanged and that turnaround times and servicing levels are not compromised, is critical.

Customer consciousness

Disclosure! Disclosure! Disclosure!

Accurate and complete disclosure is imperative to ensure the risk is being underwritten correctly and that cover aligns to the customer’s needs. Policyholders could face the risk of having claims rejected if they do not effectively comply with the conditions of cover.

No substitute

There can be no substitute for putting measures in place to prevent risk. Proper identification, prevention and mitigation measures and general awareness of risk trends, continues to be of prime importance.

Comprehending cover

Policyholders must be more vocal and curious about the risk cover they are opting into or maintain. Where risk information or covers aren’t well understood, brokers must encourage policyholders to engage you for clarity and assurance that their business remains adequately protected.

Overall, policyholders, brokers, risk specialists/insurers must continue to maintain open and productive channels of communication to ensure a clear understanding of risk and consensus around how this may be managed. What’s also important is ensuring that covers are well understand and meet the needs of the business. Only then can we ensure there are no unpleasant surprises at claims stage.

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