Earlier renewal leads to better outcome, panellists agree

The annual renewal process for global insurance programmes came under scrutiny at Commercial Risk’s Global Programmes Europe conference, with buyers, brokers and insurers all agreeing that the sooner the process starts, the better the outcome.

James Straker-Nesbit, senior insurance manager at Virgin Atlantic, said he tries to start renewals as soon as possible, so he has time to find the right answers for insurers first time. And he asked insurers to only ask for pertinent risk information.

“When you are asking questions, it is really helpful if they are actually material to the risk rather than just because someone is interested. Because getting information out of the business can be really hard and it takes a long time,” he said.

Straker-Nesbit said he and his counterparts had leaned on their brokers heavily in recent renewals, making sure that communication with insurers was clear, precise and as regular as possible. “So it wasn’t a case of approaching people six to eight weeks before renewal. Actually, that process started potentially eleven months before,” he said.

Tony Hills, client executive at QBE, told the conference that, of course, data is really important in the renewal process. But he said insurance companies sometimes forget that risk managers are often sole traders in their organisations, so questions need to be targeted.

“Sometimes the industry has a habit of issuing an information request without really thinking about what we are asking for,” he said.

“We have to get better at that because the renewal process is only as good as the data that is going in. You can’t ask an underwriter to underwrite a risk without information, but at the same time we as insurance companies have a responsibility to be transparent about what we need the data for, and try to be more timely about when we ask for it,” said Hills.

Brian Grabek, executive vice president of multinational insurance at Sompo International, said the closer to the renewal date the process begins the less room there is for creativity.

“The further in advance we are talking about this and analysing the information, allows us to look for alternative solutions. If you get too close to the transaction date, those alternatives can get pushed off to next year,” he said.

All of which questions the point of the annual renewal. As Straker-Nesbit noted: “The annual renewal process is something that the insurance market needs to try and find a solution for, which would help everybody.”

The Global Programmes Europe conference is sponsored and supported by CNA, Marsh, Allianz Commercial, Sompo International, Generali, and held in association with Airmic and the IRM.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, HDI, Lockton, Tokio Marine HCC, QBE, WTW, BPL Global and TMF were also sponsor partners at the event held at London’s Leonardo Royal Tower Bridge Hotel.

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