In the third-quarter edition of Carrier Management magazine, we devote a lot of pages to future trends.
It’s a timely focus as people increasingly talk about a future of roads filled with cars that drive themselves, houses that switch on the lights as homeowners enter, smartphones that monitor blood pressure and even robots handling insurance claims. When I was growing up, this was the kind of stuff I took in with amazement at Disney World’s Tomorrowland. (Okay, maybe not the last one, but robots were certainly performing other thoughtful tasks in the futuristic vignettes that played out through the windows of the driverless vehicles we entered on moving walkways.)
I haven’t visited Disney in decades, but I understand that the Internet of Things has taken over part of the Disney experience—something you can read about in the summary of IoT risks in one of our recent articles.
This has me wondering about what a Tomorrowland for the insurance industry might look like. Would it have insurance companies headed by women? Would they have balance sheets that aren’t being adjusted year after year to account for mounting asbestos losses?
If those last two questions seem out of place, then you’re in the same spot I am in. We’re living at a time of incredible change, propelled forward by exponential advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, 3D printing, sensor technology and fill-in-the-blank technology. So why are we still talking about issues that plagued us when I began my career in the insurance industry more than three decades ago? Why isn’t the picture of our future changing for the better?
How is it possible that only 10 percent of P/C insurers have women in the top two executive spots, as revealed in a study by Saint Joseph’s University released at the IICF Women in Insurance Global Conference? And why can’t insurers get asbestos reserving right?
The answers to both questions are complex. And in truth, insurers can be forgiven for their bad track record on asbestos. As William Wilt and Alan Zimmermann of Assured Research explain in a groundbreaking report on asbestos they released last month, advances in medical science and molecular biology are among the trends still forcing insurers to play catch-up.
But women as insurance leaders? Diversity beyond gender in the top ranks? Those have easier fixes, some of which the industry’s men and women shared with Carrier Management at the IICF conference.
Can innovation happen in an industry that isn’t embracing diversity related to gender, race, sexual orientation or age? The answer is obvious, they say. And I am not the only one who shudders when I hear words like pale, male, stale and boring applied to our industry.
Attacking the “boring” description head on, Brian Duperreault delivered these remarks during a speech at the IIS Global Insurance Forum this year: “We’re not strangers to bold moves. Innovation isn’t a foreign concept. But collectively we don’t seem to know how to crack this nut.”
Duperreault was addressing a different issue—that of attracting “hyper-connected, entrepreneurial digital natives” (a.k.a., millennials) to an “old-school” industry that desperately needs them.
But he could have easily repeated the phrase a week later during his impassioned speech at the IICF conference where he asked publicly for the second time, “Where Are the Women?”
We include his remarks from both speeches in our latest magazine, which features a look at future trends and leadership development—two topics that intersect in ways that continue to impact the industry.
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