Tag Archives: brexit

Workers’ Comp in the Year 2030

At the WCRI Annual Issues & Research Conference, Dr. Richard Victor, former CEO of WCRI and currently a senior fellow with Sedgwick Institute, discussed his views of workers’ compensation in the future.

The workers’ compensation system was a compromise between labor and business designed to provide no-fault benefits in an environment that gave exclusive remedy protections to employers. Over the years, there have been ebbs and flows to the system in an effort to maintain balance. There is a constant struggle to balance benefits to workers with the costs of the system paid by employers.

In the past, when the workers’ compensation system got out of balance, it was due to actions from those within the system. That is something the system could correct with regulatory change. However, right now, there are things happening outside of the workers’ compensation system that could significantly affect it and cause a rethinking of the grand bargain.

Emerging labor shortages

Retiring baby boomers will cause labor shortages in healthcare and the insurance industry, which will delay claims and medical care. This will ultimately increase claims costs.

See also: The State of Workers’ Compensation  

In addition, a stronger economy is ultimately going to lead to a severe labor shortage. When you pair the aging workforce and people retiring with a growing job market, you end up with not enough qualified applicants to fill the positions. Employers have to relax their hiring standards. This leads to unqualified applicants being hired. These people will likely have higher accident rates.

Changes in the non-occupational health system

As workers see their out-of-pocket health insurance costs rise, it becomes more attractive to try to shift illness and injury episodes into the workers’ compensation system. Richard feels that this shifting will result in a 25% increase in workers’ compensation claims by 2030. With soft tissue injuries, it would be very easy for the worker to indicate the injury happened at work instead of at home. Disproving that would be very challenging for employers. Higher deductibles will greatly encourage workers to look for these cost-shifting possibilities.

Millions of workers losing health insurance

The number of uninsured workers is expected to decrease significantly as elements of the Affordable Care Act are repealed or weakened. These uninsured workers are also highly encouraged to shift their treatment into the workers’ compensation system. Richard estimates a 15% increase in workers’ compensation claims due to this.

Aging workforce

The injury rates for the older workers is higher than for younger workers. As the U.S. workforce ages, we will see higher injury rates across the employee population.

Federal immigration policies and practices

Limiting the flow of immigrants into the U.S. at a time there is a labor shortage will only compound the problem. The only way to grow our workforce to keep up with the demand is with immigrants. All of the growth in the labor force going forward is projected to come from immigrants.

Roughly 15% of all healthcare workers in the U.S. are foreign-born. If we discourage immigration into this country, Richard feels it could cause a labor shortage in the healthcare industry.

It does not even take a change in policy to see a change in immigration flow. After the Brexit vote there was a significant reduction in European nurses registering to work in the U.K. This is even though there had yet to be a policy change in the country.

See also: Healthcare Reform’s Effects on Workers’ Compensation

Conclusions

Taking all of the outside factors into consideration, Richard estimates a 55% increase in the number of workers’ compensation claims by the year 2030. When you add in medical inflation the costs of the workers’ compensation system could triple by 2030 with no change in indemnity benefit levels.

With this significant increase in costs, there will be questions about the continued viability of workers’ compensation. What is the solution? Are there viable options to traditional workers’ compensation? ERISA-style plans like the opt out in Texas have been widely criticized for providing inadequate protections for injured workers. Union carveout plans only apply to a very small sector of the workforce. Could we see workers’ compensation claims organizations become accountable to both employers and workers, with employees having the ability to choose which claims organization they want to use?

Brexit Brings Some Opportunities in U.K.

The recent vote for Brexit will by no means destroy the U.K. insurance industry – if managed properly, the industry can emerge more resilient and competitive than ever. While insurers in the U.K. proceed with caution as they prepare for the country’s exit from the European Union, we at EY see this “Brexit moment” as an opportunity to foster innovation and transformations in the industry.

See also: Thoughts on Insurance After Brexit  

Insurers agree that Brexit does present a number of challenges, including instability and legal uncertainty that may arise from a delayed exit. However, we believe that with diligence and imagination, the U.K. insurance industry can use Brexit to secure its future and maintain preeminence as a leader by:

  • Investing in developing expertise in emerging areas such as big data and the Internet of Things
  • Creating attractive product lines that stand out from potential rivals in Europe
  • Developing services and products that will be attractive to growing regions beyond the EU

The industry should use the opportunities created by the Brexit vote to help London remain the best place in the world to conduct business and take steps to make London insurers the most innovative and customer-focused.

For more information, read EY’s new report.

My Top Tips From EXEC InsurTech

I usually approach conferences with mixed emotions, whether attending, learning and networking or speaking. Ultimately, for me, conferences and events are about connecting people and ideas and moving the debate and understanding forward. To this end, I was delighted to join some great folks over at EXEC Insurtech in Cologne, which for me ticked all the boxes. It had a really interesting mix of folks attending, old and new, a serious number of VCs (AXA Strategic Ventures, Commerz Ventures and many more), There were angel investors and more and, importantly, a whole host of new start-ups, many very early-stage. There were some really great ideas from outside the U.K. market, so new to me personally. And it’s always great to see SPIXII, RightIndem and other graduates from the InsurTech StartupBootcamp in London with Sabine VanderLinden.

See also: InsurTech Boom Is Reshaping Market  

In addition to a number of panels where I was able to share the latest views from the Capgemini 2016 World Insurance Report, I was asked to share some perspectives with the group on InsurTech. I wanted to share the same here.

  1. We are in a bubble. By “we,” I mean, those who are here at EXEC InsurTech and see the opportunity. Not everyone sees the world this way, yet! Many of you know I’m a firm believer that disruption is here and now, coming at us thick and fast.
  2. Stand out. Whatever reports you read, be it the tech journals, insurance news or the traditional annual reports from existing carriers, they all talk to the disruption of the traditional insurance carrier (following the “unbundling” of the banks). There are now hundreds of start-ups in this space. It always amazes me to hear Sabine and theStartup Bootcamp team talk to how many start-ups they talk to prior to shortlisting to their final cohort. Make sure that when you are on stage and you have three minutes to pitch, you stand out. Don’t be the me-too.
  3. There have been no really big failures yet. There is excitement and buzz around what people are up to, where disruption is coming from and what part of the insurance value chain people are attacking (sales, underwriting, distribution, etc.). Given this, there has been record investment in the sector; the prize is huge, with a $5 trillion market opportunity. Matthew Wong and the folks over at CB Insights continue do an amazing  job at tracking deal flow, more than $1 billion so far in 2016. The example nearest to a failure that I called out was Zenefits, given its recent re-valuation. Another one was mentioned from the audience — CSS in Switzerland, I believe, but please correct me if I have this wrong.
  4. Partnering is key.  Given the history, tradition and especially the speed of the industry, my view is it’s best to partner and work with the traditional players as opposed to going all out head-to-head today. This may, of course, change over time. There are some really great examples of partnership already.
  5. Evolution or revolution? This is one of my favorite topics. Unlike banking, where I believe #FinTech has unbundled individual services ofmatthew  a bank, insurance start-ups have taken a different approach. Underwriting, for example, is not a category all unto itself nor one that I have seen folks go after in isolation. All need other parts of the insurance value chain to be successful. There are great examples of start-ups evolving each part of the value chain, across products, distribution, sales, etc. Matteo Carbone put together some good thinking a while back on this with his mental framework covering awareness, choice, purchase and use, as did Venture Scanner here in a series of visuals. For now, we are primarily digitizing and simplifying the existing approach and process.
  6. Product mindset. We simply need to move away from this. It will take generations for a complete mindset change. It will happen, in my view, when start-ups move to an “all risks” or truly customer-centric approach (not just better service experience). My two golden rules here remain: relevance and convenience. At what point does insurance become frictionless?
  7. Every carrier is partnering. Pick your partners carefully. I was talking to one of the start-ups that has now engaged in 30-plus pilots. While this is really encouraging and great for the start-up, every carrier is a) partnering, b) building a lab c) working with an accelerator. Make sure you don’t become part of a badge-collecting journey. Are your and the insurance carrier’s ambitions, culture and outcomes aligned? Make sure we are all walking into these partnerships with eyes wide open and with a clear plan of what happens if a partnership is successful.
  8. AI/data/bots are big and cool. That is all! There are some great use cases and examples developing here. We heard from SPIXII and Insuragram, just two examples of how AI and bots are looking to solve some of the business and engagement challenges.
  9. Don’t be the fad. See #7 and #8. Over the last few years, I’ve seen the rise and rise of big data. Then came digital. Now it’s blockchain and chat bots. My point here is that these are all great technologies. But don’t be the technology looking for a business problem to solve — sage old advice you will hear again and again.
  10. Beware of the silos. Many start-ups are working with global carriers. Just because we work with them in one country doesn’t mean they all talk, are connected seamlessly internally and exchange ideas and key learnings. The same is true for in-country and across lines of business. Many people operate in silo’ed P&L models where you may end up doing multiple different engagements with the same global carrier. Joining the dots may not always be right for you. Think speed! You’re in a relay race. Moving parts of an organization to the start line is often easier than moving the whole team at once. As the saying goes,“think big, start small, act quickly.”
  11. Customers (end customers) need to be ready.  With all these cool new ideas and apps that can disrupt traditional insurance, our challenge is often not whether something can be done but whether customers will be ready. We know it can be done; everything is possible! But there are many reasons why customers take a while, often a long while. Telematics is 25-plus years old, but it’s only now becoming more widely adopted. Even now, take-up is still relatively slow (except in Italy).
  12. Talent. Above all, there is an arms race for talent out there. Bringing together InsurTech and traditional insurers is one of the best ways of ensuring (no pun intended!) that we continue to attract and leverage some of the greatest talent in the marketplace, promoting Insurance along the way as a great place to excel and challenge the status quo.

See also: InsurTech Forces Industry to Rethink

So back to one of my initial comments — what conferences do for me. At this one, particularly, I was delighted to meet with so many folks looking at the market from different angles. Conversations about Europe were especially interesting given the recent U.K. BREXIT decision.

Finally, getting to exchange ideas with Matteo Carbone of Bain and Florian Graillot of AXA Strategic Ventures in person was the icing on the cake. Gentlemen, until next time. My thanks to Robbie Boushery, Moritz Delbrück and the team at Pirate Summit for bringing this all together.

So what do you think? Good sage advice? Something missing? What would you add/remove from my list?

Looking forward to continuing the debate!

Thoughts on Insurance After Brexit

On the day after the U.K. referendum voted to leave the European Union, a leading U.K. newspaper ran a cartoon with the caption, “Democracy is too important to be left to the people.” Of course, it was tongue in cheek, but the point was well made. Since the vote, markets globally have tumbled, shares in financial institutions have fallen, some as much as a third, the U.K. has “lost” Prime Minster Cameron and some are already seeing this referendum as the first sign of the breakup of the European Union.

In my blog of Feb. 29, “What Happens if U.K. Exists the E.U.?“, I suggested that, for the insurance industry, nothing good would come of the U.K. leaving Europe. I wasn’t alone in that thinking. In the days immediately before the vote, 20 European insurance institutes signed a letter asking that the U.K. not leave. The U.K.-based institute of brokers BIBA urged its members to vote to remain. Surveys of U.K.-based insurance executives showed almost universal agreement to stay.

But everyone was allowed to vote, not just insurance professions. The results showed massive division between different parts of the country, and even directly within families, with the agenda dictated ultimately by three key aspects: the economy; sovereignty and immigration. Some are currently arguing that the third factor, immigration, was the most persuasive and divisive – but in fairness they do a disservice to the complexity of the arguments.

In my lifetime, this event is outstanding in that almost everyone had a point of view, and in many cases were prepared to vocalize it. One madman even exercised his democratic freedom by murdering a member of the U.K. Parliament on the other side of the issue. Overall, it was a dirty campaign that, if anything, has undermined the public’s trust in our public representatives.

The challenge really rested with the bilateral nature of the decision. You were either Remain or Leave. There was no halfway house or room for indecision.

And then the results came in. And chaos was unleashed. The philosopher and statistician Nassim Taleb talks about “black swans” – events of low probability but maximum impact – and many are saying that this is one of them. His 2007 book Black Swans – Coping With the Improbable suggests that many financial services organizations are simply not prepared to cope with losses beyond what they have predicted in their models.

But this isn’t entirely true. One major U.K.-based global insurer has already said that, despite its stock value falling by 25%, it has adequately stress tested its business. I really hope that it represents the wider U.K.-based insurance industry, as opposed to being a one-off. Even so, asset managers are already actively reviewing their portfolios, and there will inevitably be a number of knock-on effects.

What all this means for the man in the street remains uncertain. In a saturated market, suffering from overcapacity, will the “leave” vote affect insurance premiums and, if so, in what way? There is already a threat of increased taxation, and it’s unlikely that the insurance industry will remain unscathed. How the major global insurers based in mainland Europe will respond to the U.K. “issue” will also make interesting viewing.

The fall in value of U.K.-based insurers coupled with the weaker pound sterling will make some U.K. insurers extremely vulnerable to predators, especially those keen to gain a foothold in the Northern hemisphere. Do not be surprised by some M&A activity in the coming months.

At the end of the day, despite all the uncertainty, this is an industry – and a country –that is characterized by resilience. For those working in it, and living in it, we have to be honest and recognize that there are likely to be difficult times ahead. But whatever we think of the vote, the essence of how we choose to live in the U.K. (and the Western world) is in respecting the will of the people. Let’s just get on with it.