Agile, creative, flexible, innovative and patient. These are some of the qualities that can help managers successfully manage challenging insurance markets, according to Business insurance”s 2023 Break Out Award winners when we asked them: What is your advice on navigating the current insurance market?
Creativity and innovation were common themes as awards spoke of how tough insurance markets and emerging risks require different approaches and solutions. Building on the drive to develop alternatives, emerging technologies such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence are changing the risk landscape and helping to provide answers. One honoree noted that the industry is more open to new ideas and that there is a need to take advantage of that change. Another responded that the focus should be on strengthening the technology and talent that support innovation to drive business growth.
In what is a fluid and dynamic market environment, it is notable that relationships remain highly valued and considered the foundation of successful transactions. After emerging from a long period of virtual handshakes, many of the awardees are still committed to developing strong relationships, even as they embrace the advances that digitization brings. “We need to get back and build our networks,”; said one honoree.
Interestingly, business relationships are not limited to being between broker and client or insurer and policyholder. Several awardees pointed to the importance of developing connections that include all parts of the market and potential partners, perhaps underscoring the need to try multiple avenues and options to secure the best outcomes for clients, whether it’s getting coverage or working through a claim.
Sustainable relationships also need to be supported and nurtured by hard and soft skills. Several awardees recognized the importance of developing technical knowledge and expertise, not necessarily by going to school to learn insurance, but by being receptive to learning on the job and sharing information. By staying ahead of trends and staying informed, royalties said they are better at educating clients about changes in the market.
However, so-called people or interpersonal skills are as crucial as knowledge in difficult insurance markets. Listening to others — not necessarily easy to do when faced with yet another round of premium increases or unexpected losses — requires understanding not only what risk managers face, but also what the market’s concerns might be, one awardee said. “We always have to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes to understand what they need,” said another.
Just as critical as listening is the ability to openly communicate good and bad news. Communicating what you know as you navigate markets in a state of flux is helpful in managing customer expectations, several awardees said. Transparency and honesty seem to be more respected and appreciated than making promises that cannot be kept. Knowing when and how to say no and being open about what you can and can’t do is a little more important in this market, said one awardee. “When every stone is turned and all options are exhausted, it really comes down to communicating with both our carrier partners and our customers,” said another winner.
It’s that fearlessness that has fueled this year’s cohort of BOA winners along their impressive career paths thus far. That willingness to be bold and creative will propel them forward in their careers regardless of insurance market conditions.