2023 was another year of global turmoil.
But turbulent times spark innovation. As the industry rises to meet these challenges, it is forced to innovate to find new and exciting ways to mitigate the impacts on end customers (and the bottom line). We’ve seen great leaps in innovation in the last year, particularly in Generative AI. And new products, solutions, and businesses emerge committed to driving the industry forward.
Nevertheless, underwriters have been under extreme pressure to carefully select and manage the risks on their books, as well as looking ahead to predict what might happen next. They can’t afford missteps in the current market cycle, which although shows signs of softening across some specialty lines of business, remains hard in areas such as property reinsurance. Insurers aren’t quite out of the woods yet.
The key to adapting and responding to these challenges is data, and the ability to access insurance and risk information in real time. Smarter use of data will unlock untold potential for underwriters, enabling them to stay ahead of the market and remain competitive.
Trend 1: AI is the norm now, what’s next?
It wouldn’t be a trends article without the mention of Generative AI (Gen AI), a buzzphrase of 2023 that shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. But we must acknowledge that AI in insurance isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s here and has been for a long time. AI is already a game-changer for commercial and specialty underwriters with practical uses ranging from machine learning to spot patterns in claims data, optical character recognition (OCR) to interpret data from various sources, and natural language processing (NLP) to read documents and contracts.
Trend 2: The year of the API
Underpinning many of the trends, and the bonds that hold the insurance ecosystem together, the Application Processing Interface (API) will become more important than ever in 2024.
Trend 3: Talent – the rise of the generalist
The acceleration of technology, the application of AI, and the increased prevalence of digital underwriting will inevitably lead to a shift in the skills needed to be an underwriter. This is part of a wider cultural shift in how we think about and transact insurance.
Trend 4: Collaboration is the new competition
Collaboration and partnership will be key to success in the coming year. The underwriting evolution can’t happen if disparate groups of people and businesses work on their own pockets of innovation. This will only lead to systems and technologies that don’t talk to each other or drive holistic benefits for the wider insurance industry.
Trend 5: Market softening: Cyber in 2024
Despite a number of high-profile cyber incidents at the beginning of 2023, the tide appears to be turning on the cyber market. Last year saw stabilisation in rates and the return of capacity to a market that has been beleaguered with challenges as underwriters and their clients struggled with how to manage the growing, complicated risk.
Trend 6: Emerging risks – what’s next?
It’s unlikely we’ll see too much change to the top risks in 2024. Geopolitical conflict, interest rate volatility, regulation, cybersecurity and ESG are all likely to feature high on the risk radar. But how can insurers predict and manage the next big emerging risks? And what should risk managers be on the lookout for?
There is no doubt that rapidly evolving threats (and opportunities) are on the horizon. However, how insurers identify and respond to these greatly differs as they consider their risk tolerance thresholds.
Trend 7: A proactive approach to managing climate change risk
We continue to be surprised by the rate of climate change and the natural disasters it sparks. In 2023 we witnessed some of the costliest catastrophes around the world including Hurricane Idalia in the US, wildfires in Canada, Typhoon Doksuri in the Philippines and the devastating earthquake impacting Turkey, Lebanon and Syria.
We’re likely to see more of the same in 2024, and with losses surpassing hundreds of billions of dollars globally, the industry must begin to adopt a more proactive response to extreme weather events.
Trend 8: The hard insurance market persists
While 2023 saw easing conditions for certain lines of coverage, the overall market remains hard.
Aside from CAT losses and the wider economy, several factors contribute to the hard market. These include inconsistent underwriting profits, mixed investment returns, inflation and the cost of reinsurance.
Trend 9: Investment in underwriting
Finally, we’re experiencing a tangible shift in investment from claims and post-bind to pre-bind technologies that improve the underwriting experience, facilitating profitable growth and increased efficiencies.
2024 is set to be another busy year for underwriters, and we expect to see intention turn to action as the industry embraces solutions to some of the biggest challenges it faces from AI, to the economy, to climate change.
To read more detail about the above trends, please visit Send now