Welcome to 5 Questions, a blog series where an Xceedance team member shares their perspectives on insurance, technology, and market trends. For this edition, we spoke with Isabelle Clausner, VP, client executive for Southern Europe.
Q1: You’ve worked for insurance organizations across Europe, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy. What are the key commonalities, and important differences, in how these markets operate?
Isabelle: Many people operating outside the region may have the perception that Europe is one marketplace, but when you take a closer look at the size of the market, its concentration, distribution landscape, and purchasing behavior (to name a few), you quickly realize that is not the case. If we look at the distribution landscape, there is a wide variety of national distribution channels. The French non-life market, for example, is dominated by brokers with very strong local and family-owned brokers, but agents still represent over 70% of the Italian non-life market, and in-house or captive brokers are very present in the German market. All of this reflects the industrial and economic fabric of the individual countries.
Q2: What do you see as the most important trend positioned to impact the European insurance marketplace?
Isabelle: Digital transformation is having a massive impact on the marketplace, transforming the way people work, what they do, and how they do it. This was accelerated by the pandemic but also supported by the fact that the number of insurtechs keeps growing – it’s almost impossible to keep track – with these organizations responding to new or growing customer needs, sometimes trying to fill protection gaps or supporting the transformation of the industry by providing products, services, or technology to established market players.
This deep digital transformation of the industry started on the distribution side but is now cutting across all functions. And this trend is also creating new questions and considerations for regulators. The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) launched several consultations recently, focusing on blockchain, smart contracts, and the use of algorithms in machine learning. The Italian insurance Supervisory Authority (IVASS) also recently launched a survey on machine learning algorithms.
It’s worth pointing out that automation will change the mix of skills required across all functions in insurance. I think this will also be facilitated by a new wave of insurance professionals. A recent Insurance Thought Leadership research highlighted that “50% of current insurance employees will retire by 2028” therefore leaving greater opportunities for the more digitally savvy generations!
Climate change is another trend we cannot ignore, putting stress on the system on the one hand and creating opportunities on the other. If we take floods in Europe for example – the flood risk landscape has changed, and insurers are seeing a change in exposures that will have an impact on traditional capacity allocation. At the same time, more specific and targeted products, like parametric insurance, can fill the voids created when traditional markets are not available for certain coverage types.
Q3: As the primary point of contact for Xceedance in Southern Europe what do you want insurance organizations in that region to know about the company?
Isabelle: First of all, I would like to reiterate our purpose statement: to help catalyze insurance ecosystems for the benefit of society. We do this by driving efficiencies for insurance organizations in 3 different but complementary areas: strategic operations support, technology, and data services. The second message I want to share is that insurance is all we know and the only thing we do.
What does this mean to brokers, insurers, reinsurers, MGAs, and all the actors across the insurance value chain in Southern Europe? We are here to work with them, to help them navigate the market trends that I was referring to earlier, plus others that emerge. When working with Xceedance, you work with a team of experts covering the entire life cycle of insurance. Whether your needs are ad-hoc or longer-term and strategic, I am the entry point into an organization that will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to your company.
I would also like to highlight that we have built a real talent pool across the key functions of the insurance lifecycle, and we are investing to grow this talent pool to respond to the needs of French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish companies, plus others across Europe. Whether it’s from a local language perspective or local regulations and market practices, we are a trusted resource to meet the needs of insurance organizations across the continent.
Q4: What will be different about the European insurance marketplace in 2030 compared to where it is today?
Isabelle: I would expect to see a very different marketplace in 2030. For one, RPA, AI, chatbots, the cloud, big data, blockchain, and smart contracts will become part of the new normal in the European insurance landscape.
This will have an impact on the market players. On the one hand, we may see greater concentration as the smaller or less agile players will be acquired by those who invested early in digitalization. The leading players in 2030 will be those that focused on and prioritized technology early on, but also that managed to build a successful digital and data culture and committed to up-skilling or re-skilling employees.
On the other hand, we’ll see the arrival of new players enabled by technology, like more MGAs and companies offering new services to their clients in the areas of healthcare, utilities, consumer goods, mobility, or travel. The new competition generated by embedded insurance will be part of the new distribution landscape. The likes of Tesla Insurance in Italy and France will also likely grow substantially across the region in the coming years.
Q5: What are some key considerations for attracting talent to the insurance industry in your region, and what guidance would you offer to individuals looking to advance their careers in insurance?
Isabelle: In order to attract talent there are 3 areas where we as an industry need to do a better job at explaining what insurance really is.
- The first one is to better demonstrate the purpose of insurance: to protect companies or individuals against the uncertainties of life, to support them when the going gets tough.
- The second one is to increasingly showcase the importance of data and technology as an integral part of most insurance jobs going forward. The buzz of the Insurtech scene across most countries in Southern Europe may encourage this. But we shouldn’t keep this as the best-kept secret – we should promote this with the younger generations who will be the future leaders in our industry.
- Finally, we should not take our eyes off the diversity ball! When it comes to gender diversity, to pick one, we have various situations across Southern Europe, but I would like to highlight the French insurance industry as being one of the most gender-diverse insurance markets I have come across in my career. Hats off Mesdames – I hope the contagion will spread quickly!
If I have one piece of advice to share with anyone looking to advance their career in insurance today, it is to “be curious and agile”. Never stop learning or asking questions, and don’t hesitate to step outside of your comfort zone. The diversity of experiences the insurance industry brings is a chance for those who are curious, sometimes even adventurous, to succeed and thrive. But also, be human and respectful. I think that is valid for any industry, and for everything we do in life!
Thanks to Isabelle Clausner for sharing her insights, and watch for the next installment of 5 Questions coming soon!