Taking international insurance programmes to the next level

Investments in service excellence and innovations are moving international programme business to the next level, according to Joerg Bertogg, chief operating officer for Zurich Commercial Insurance, and Petra Riga-Müller, head of commercial insurance Germany.

International programmes are highly complex business solutions that require absolute focus, expert knowledge, a global network and, most importantly, passion. International programmes are not something that you can do on the side. And this expert focus is even more important today, as extensive investments are required to meet changing customer needs, adapting to a rapidly evolving landscape. In particular, a high quality of servicing is a key differentiator in this industry.

Overall, the relevance of international insurance programmes continues to grow, as more and more companies expand overseas, and as they seek to steer their risk appetite, risk management and insurance centrally. At the same time, demands on insurance programmes are increasing, with new risk exposures, the growing need for data-driven risk insights, and the expectation of 24/7 digital access and servicing, globally and locally.

Getting the basics right

So what do multinational companies expect from insurers? What are the most pressing issues that the industry needs to respond to? In practice, they want us to provide excellent service in every interaction. They also expect us to innovate and help them manage in a rapidly changing risk landscape.

What customers are asking for is to receive the same high-quality service and the same seamless response anywhere in the world, whether their request is in Argentina, Singapore or Switzerland. They want their insurer to get policy instructions right the first time, to deliver service in a timely manner, and to exchange information with accuracy. In short, they expect insurers to get the basics right.

Getting the basics right day-in, day-out is not as easy as it sounds. Successful international programme business requires smooth coordination between dedicated teams of experts, tailor-made systems and seamless processes within the organisation. Still today, unnecessary reworking and delays persist from poor communication. This is where the tripartite relationship is very important.

“When implementing or renewing an international programme across multiple countries, it is crucial that customers, brokers, and insurers work together with the same information to enable seamless communication and efficient collaboration,” says Petra Riga-Müller.

While only a handful of carriers can meet the basics today, further investments are needed to keep pace with digitisation, connectivity and speed in the market. Additionally, multinational companies are facing new risks in the areas of climate change, global supply chains and cybersecurity. These companies seek data, analytics and insights to understand and mitigate these risks, and are looking to insurers to support them with bespoke solutions.

Leveraging people and processes

To raise the bar on international programmes, insurers in this business need to make significant investments in their people and processes.

Managing the complexity of this business requires very specialised and highly experienced skills. To reach gold standard, international programme servicing needs to become its own discipline with people 100% dedicated to it. This also goes through attaining a higher standard of expertise within servicing teams. At Zurich, for example, we have established an international programmes academy, certifying any employee who touches international programmes, which helps us guarantee high quality of service while preserving continuity and improvement of knowledge and best practices.

Higher quality of service also heavily relies on better processes. To deliver beyond customer expectations, insurance companies can reinforce their processes by relying on a central network management and sustainable long-standing relationships with their network partners. An excellent way to support this is to keep only one central contact and input channel for the whole insurance programme in the home country. In addition, it is essential that insurers work closely with brokers on joint solutions and seamless communication for their clients. At Zurich, we aim to leverage our position as a leading multinational insurer to steer the industry towards more customer-focused and cooperative processes.

Getting better connected

Raising the bar on international programmes servicing and business also means ensuring better data availability and connectivity. Self-servicing solutions, such as portals, as well as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can ensure that risk managers have instant access to their information and data, at any time. For example, Zurich has invested heavily in creating a leading portal capability, giving customers and brokers access to their data 24/7 with built in self-service capabilities. Zurich has also led the industry in building direct connections to customer risk management systems and broker platforms using API capabilities.

“Better collaborating with insurance carriers in future must include upgraded technical features, such as an automated data exchange. Our newly established API with Zurich to transfer relevant insurance data is already leading to efficiency gains and cost savings. Error prone manual data transfers or misinterpretations can be substantially minimised”, says Marcus Reichel, global head insurance management at Knauf Group, global leader in the field of sustainable lightweight construction and building materials.

The instant accessibility to accurate data is a game changer for international programmes, enabling greater collaboration, clearer communication and the generation of actionable insights in real time. Data analytics is not just important for underwriting and risk assessment, but also critical for developing risk management and optimal risk transfer solutions. As Joerg Bertogg explains, “We continue to invest in global underwriting and analytics platforms, to share meaningful insights to our customers on their worldwide exposures and risks, along with comparisons with relevant industry trends.”

Today, the continued development of artificial intelligence technologies is accelerating the pace at which data can be analysed and insights can be generated and consumed. This frees up risk managers, insurers and brokers to concentrate on understanding insights and taking meaningful decisions, using their experience and knowledge to assess and mitigate risks more effectively.

Protecting customers from evolving risks

Multinational companies are facing new, complex risks and rely on a cohesive view of their exposures and insurance coverage for their business decisions. With a seamless, insightful and adaptive international programmes business, customers will benefit from better-tailored protection and smarter solutions for their global risks.

Contributed by Joerg Bertogg, chief operating officer for Zurich Commercial Insurance, and Petra Riga-Müller, head of commercial insurance Germany

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