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Disruption - more of the same final

Disruption – more of the same?

Our technology survey indicated that the long-term, short-term and investment sectors all experienced disruption over the past 18 months.  Results (Fig. 1) indicate that the long-term sector was most affected, but both the short-term and investment sectors were not far behind.

   

Fig. 1 – Financial services sector impacted by Covid

I think that the disruptions to the financial services sector as well as the economy overall have been analysed, discussed and documented at length.  However, I think that we are still to see the full impact of the virus on insurers and the insurance product.

  • What will be the influence of a now more readily available vaccine, notwithstanding it’s long-term efficacy, on underwriting?
  • Will the individual’s choice not to be vaccinated be treated like other health related lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking?
  • How will travel insurance be affected?

The proposed and much vaunted or maligned vaccine passport (depending on your Twitter feed) has been around since the 1930’s in the form of the Yellow Card or International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis and would be familiar to anyone who has travelled or is about to travel to certain African and South American countries.

  • How will travel insurance and extended medical cover make allowances for travel to regions where Covid outbreaks are common and uncontrolled?
  • Will travel become more informed and exclusive?

These are just a couple of the issues a sector hard hit by the pandemic is grappling with. As an example, Mauritius will open its borders to vaccinated South Africans with limitations on where visitors can stay as of October 1, 2021.  The unvaccinated are welcome but have to quarantine in their hotel rooms for a two-week period before being allowed to venture forth.  There are certainly many more questions than answers at this stage.

After a host of business interruption and contingency claims in 2020, SA short term insurers and advisors have suddenly had to contend with massive asset destruction in KZN and Gauteng, albeit on a far more limited scale in Gauteng.  The challenges and disruptions continue.

Now for the good news

Notwithstanding, or possibly as a result of, Covid, globally there has been there is an increased trend in perceptions of the importance of health and wellness including the uptake of health related products and health monitoring.  This positive shift is underpinned and supported by various technologies including the rise of 5G and IOT.

With health comes fitness and it’s not just about attending a fitness class in your local gym.  Access is now omnichannel – you can attend your fitness class from anywhere with an internet connection.  Alternatively, you can link an indoor trainer (whether cycling or running) to an online fitness app such as Zwift and workout in the safety of your home while tracking fitness and health levels. Proactive self-health management is very much the first step in primary health care – a trend that is set to increase over time.

On a less individual note, education is due for a much needed shake-up.  Various hybrid learning solutions are being proposed.  Even with these solutions in place, with six months to a year of missed classes and learning backlogs to attend to, there is a very real chance that some learners will never catch up.  This outcome holds very real and very serious repercussions for our society and our economy over the next decade or longer.

The above examples of disruption (and their outcomes) are varied and diverse and serve only to show the multiple challenges faced by society and its individuals.  Where does it leave the broker and his/her client?  If I had an answer to that question, I probably would not be writing this article.  Suffice to say, if you deliver on your clients’ priorities today while anticipating tomorrow, the future may be slightly more familiar than it currently seems.

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