34 Years in the Industry: What’s Changed Over the Years?
I’m getting close to 35 years in the industry and there has been so much change, it’s interesting to think back to what insurance was like when I first started and what has changed.
Catching up with Peter Steven in Melbourne
When I started there was phone, fax and snail mail. I would consider the advent of email as the single largest change in communication I have seen, however now it’s only a part of the communication puzzle. I now communicate via office phone, mobile, SMS, email, Teams, Zoom and 3 or 4 other pieces of software with communication components.
Keeping up with this many communication channels is a challenge and requires a completely different approach to work and communication to the 1989 version of me.
Face to Face meetings
Depending on where you live in Australia, this has changed to varying degrees and Covid changed this landscape significantly. In 1989, brokers regularly made appointments to see insurers to present/discuss accounts and brokers saw most clients each renewal. In 2023 that picture is very different (depending on whether the broker is in a major capital city or in regional Australia and also the size of the client).
Meeting with Angie and Jeff in the early 2000’s
Every industry has changed a lot and insurance is no different. Hardware used to consist of a computer with a really dodgy screen. I now have 3 screens in front of me at work and at home. Server rooms used to be ‘large’, they’re now virtually non existent with all the data in the ‘cloud’ (wherever that is). Backup tapes had to be ejected and taken off site each day. Thank goodness tapes are a thing of the past!
For brokers transacting with insurers, the single biggest change I’ve seen is the introduction of Steadfast’s SCTP system, allowing for terms to be obtained from up to 9 insurers from the entry of a single data set. On the broking trust account administration side, we used to have to write dozens and dozens of cheques out each week. We would post them and wait for them to be presented or find out a couple of them had gone missing, so stop payment and reissue. Now we run a payment file and upload it to the bank and funds are immediately transferred to around 300 insurers/agencies multiple times per week.
However, in saying all of this, my overall view of insurance technology is that it hasn’t developed as fast as many other industries. When I look at some of the software I use as a consumer, I wish the insurance industry had developed as rapidly. We are starting to see software robots, API’s and AI, so maybe the industry will leap ahead in the next 5 years.
This has also changed significantly. The single largest change was the introduction of the Financial Services Reform Act 20 years ago but then the Financial Services Royal Commission around 5 years ago brought another spike in reforms. Whilst a lot of these compliance changes have improved the industry and the outcomes from compliance, there is a lot that has added cost to the industry and little or no benefit to clients. These increased costs are passed on to insurance clients, contributing to the affordability of insurance issues, so the real benefit of many aspects of compliance and consumer protection is questionable.
2023 Ausure Hobart Conference: Scott with Jenny Sharman, Charline Mitchener and Graeme Lilley
Ausure Head Office: Scott with John Mills, and Mick O’Bree
A quiet drink with my mate Darryn
Playing dress ups with Troy and Graeme
Troy and Scott visiting Central Queensland
One of many conference Gala dinners
I could go on but these were the main points that came to mind when thinking about what life looked like in insurance 30 or so years ago compared to now.
I also reflect back and think how fortunate I was to ‘stumble’ into insurance. The industry has given me so many experiences, opportunities and friendships that I am extremely grateful for. Many of my friends from school went down the path of ‘traditional’ occupations – teaching, nursing, accountants, and trades. Insurance definitely wasn’t and on the careers guide at school and it still isn’t, but based on what the industry can give back to somebody who wants to ‘put in’, there aren’t many industries that can match it.