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Dutch risk managers expect better renewals as face-to-face meetings return

Members of Narim, the Dutch risk and insurance management association, are looking forward to less stressful renewals as the threat of Covid-19 recedes and they are able to sit down with their insurers to engage in proper discussion about their programmes, Adri van der Waart, president of the association, told Commercial Risk Europe.

Van der Waart said the inability to carry out proper face-to-face negotiations with carriers during recent renewals was a serious problem for Narim members as they tried to secure adequate capacity at affordable rates during increasingly tough discussions.

But Narim managed to hold its annual congress in physical form in Rotterdam at the end of last month, with more than 350 delegates in attendance. Van der Waart said everyone was delighted to be able to finally meet up again in person and there is a real sense of optimism in the Dutch market that some of the damage done during recent renewals can be repaired.

He said insurers need to take a long hard look at themselves after their generally poor recent performance, when limits were withdrawn and prices spiralled without adequate warning, leaving insurance managers in very difficult positions.

Evidence is fast building, however, that leading insurers have listened to the complaints and are keen to re-engage more positively with their leading corporate customers, he added.

Van der Waart spoke to Commercial Risk Europe while at the Airmic conference in Brighton, and said he was pleased to hear similar sentiments expressed by its CEO Julia Graham, who spoke about the first “green shoots” of market recovery. He noted a similarly more positive outlook for the coming renewals voiced at the recent GVNW conference in Germany.

Narim members should, however, not get overexcited about the end-of-year renewals and promise their CFOs too much, added Van der Waart.

The outlook is at best flattening overall and there will still be particularly difficult discussions over cyber coverage, as insurers continue to reassess this critical line in light of rapid business digitalisation during the past two years.

Van der Waart said that is the biggest concern for insurance buyers and will naturally be a hot topic of discussion between Narim members and their carriers in the coming weeks and months. But at least the ability to hold proper meaningful discussions face to face should lead to more productive conversations and much improved communication, he said.

“We had 380 people attend the Narim congress and this was the opportunity to open the discussion about where we had been during this tough period, and how to repair the partnership that had been damaged as the insurers put their heels in the sand,” said Van der Waart.

“We need to discuss again and not just about prices – it’s also about insurability with acceptable conditions. During my speech at the congress, I said that this ability to engage in proper discussion again was key and the whole audience agreed unanimously. We need to be back at the table,” he continued.

“I believe that the top pricing increases have been done. Maybe there will be more in some specific lines such as cyber, which is a big issue. But in D&O maybe the strongest increases have been done. I agree with Julia Graham that maybe we are seeing the green shoots of recovery overall and it was good to see leading insurers at the Airmic conference say that they are keen to engage in partnership. I did have to say, however, how dare you ask for partnership after leaving for one and a half years, and adding all those clauses and exclusions and imposing such high premium increases!” added Van der Waart.

The news from Narim is therefore as encouraging as the news from Airmic on prospects for coming renewals. It seems that the worst may be over in most lines. The talk of partnership from insurers is positive but, as Van der Waart suggested, they need to recognise that they have some making up to do and should not expect to be welcomed back to the table with open arms.

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