The Big Question: What was the most important lesson learnt at the Biba Conference 2024?


Industry leaders reflect on the most significant lessons they learned at this year’s conference, or the key takeaways they took back to their businesses


Graeme Trudgill, chief executive, Biba

Having worked with the media and politicians over the years, I firmly believe in authenticity and honesty – after all, we are an industry based on trust.

A key aspect of this is how we communicate and my key takeaways from the Biba Conference 2024 (15 and 16 May 2024) come from three completely different sessions.

Firstly, I learned from Vicky Pattison, TV personality. She was incredibly moving to listen to when describing how, when she first rose to fame, she simply wasn’t being herself – she was playing to what the media wanted.

It was only when she felt she could be her real, authentic self that she became happy and confident, which worked well for her as her popularity increased.

Next, David Coulthard, F1 driver, was brutally frank when he said racing drivers are full of excuses –blaming the car, other drivers, or any other reason rather than themselves.

However, he described how much better it is for both teams and the performance of the car if drivers were just honest and said ’I misjudged that apex’ rather than to set hares running in the pit lane and mechanics down car setup rabbit holes, wasting precious time and energy and perhaps leading to a bigger failure.

Ultimately, both lessons are about the way we communicate and this is important between brokers and insurers too – something flagged by Jason Storah, UKGI chief executive at Aviva, in an insurer focused session.

Authenticity and clear, honest communication are the right ways to approach life and business – greatlessons that apply anywhere.


Duncan Pritchard, founder and managing director, Commercial Express

The most important lesson learned at the Biba Conference 2024 was the critical issue of claims handling by third-party facilities appointed by capacity providers, rather than MGAs managing claims themselves.

These claims facilities often harm the reputation and brand of MGAs through poor service, leading to potential losses in business and dented broker relationships. MGAs have limited control of this.

Despite being held accountable for the services they provide, MGAs can only influence this type of claims handling to a certain extent because the claims handling contracts are managed by insurer partners.

Some claims handlers are receptive to MGA feedback, but many are dismissive, which exacerbates the problem. This issue is not new – it has long been a significant concern for MGAs in the UK.

The customers’ claims journey, which is crucial to the insurance purchase decision, remains outside the control of MGAs.

Even with the introduction of the FCA’s Consumer Duty regulation aimed at improving standards, the main fault lies with insurers due to their lack of oversight, inadequate management information and poor communication.

The conference last month highlighted the urgent need for better insurer oversight and collaboration to enhance the overall claims experience.


Donna Scully, director, Carpenters Group

We took 10 students from the Academy of St Francis of Assisi in Liverpool to the second day of the Biba Conference and the feedback has been phenomenal.

All the exhibitors made them so welcome and talked to them about careers in insurance – the students asked some insightful questions too.

The pupils loved the people that they met and enjoyed the Young Broker Day on 16 May 2024.

Their teacher told me afterwards: ”The students saw what ambition looks like and they learned that we can set great goals for ourselves in life. They now really want to know more about insurance and all it has to offer.”

Everybody who met the secondary school students said the pupils were engaged with the conference and engaging to speak to – conference attendees thought it was a great idea to bring them to an event like the Biba Conference.

I am hoping this is just the start of us doing this type of activity more.

For me, this action not only showcases the insurance and broker industry as a destination for a fulfilling career, but it also supports social mobility, diversity and inclusion.


John Inwood, underwriting director, Avid Insurance

The Biba Conference is, perhaps uniquely, a true marketplace that gives every part of the insurance industry a great opportunity to take the temperature of the market and to do business together.

This year, our takeaways were a huge positivity about the next one to three years, particularly regarding the role that MGAs play in the emerging market. There has been a significant and welcome shift in mindset from the last few years.

That positivity is reflected in support for MGAs moving past the current position, with insurers and partners looking for areas to widen their footprint.

Capacity providers’ focus is very much on MGAs that can demonstrate a unique skill set or that have unique distribution capabilities.

There is a much more stable environment in the MGA sector for insurer partners, allowing a focus on growth and strategic partnerships.

Furthermore, MGAs operating in specialist markets have greater protection against the threat of as oftening market compared to those working in the middle ground.

Ultimately, the Biba Conference underlines what most of us working in this industry already know – insurance is still about relationships and this is very much part of how we operate at Avid Insurance.

Neil Garrett, UK and Ireland sales director, Verisk UK

The theme of 2024’s Biba Conference was ’ What’s next?’ and our industry is not alone in wondering what technological advances can transform the market and what tools businesses should place their bets on.

This discussion must, however, adopt a collaborative approach. Achieving consensus is key and the Biba Conference underlined that. For Verisk in particular, three related points stood out.

Firstly, brokers and insurers must collaborate to better understand the needs of the customer and what technology can provide.

As we support and work with both sides, our task at Verisk is to encourage our customers to integrate with the wider insurance ecosystem. Better understanding feeds improved collaboration and better customer service.

Secondly, tackling underinsurance remains a vital issue for the industry – especially in areas such as commercial and travel.

We need to work collaboratively to make sure customers really understand what they’re buying. Customers thinking that they’re covered by their policy and discovering that they’re not is one of the biggest causes of reputational damage for us all.

Thirdly, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in increasingly innovative ways to automate manual tasks and remove bottlenecks in processes. This frees up people to be reassigned to more complex work.

Collaboration is central to us at Verisk – we bring together diverse capabilities across claims, underwriting, policy admin and medical risk assessment.

It was great to meet brokers at the Biba Conference that communicated a strong desire to embrace technology to automate many aspects of how they do business.

Ajay Mistry, co-founder, Insurance Cultural Awareness Network

I came away from this year’s Biba Conference with a lot of new insights and takeaways about the industry as a whole and where it may be heading in the future.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learnt this year was the importance of the industry needing to focus more on introducing new and diverse people to the Manchester-based conference.

In my role as co-founder and co-chair of the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network (Ican), I brought along some of our members to represent the network on our exhibition stand – many of whom had never experienced Biba’s conference before despite having worked in the industry for years.

Seeing these fresh new faces interact and engage with other delegates, speak to senior industry figures and share their ideas showed me why it is so important to bring new people to the conference. They will be the faces to continue the Biba Conference legacy well into the future.

It is crucial that we, as an industry, do more to introduce new and diverse perspectives by opening up opportunities for people in broking firms and the wider insurance industry.

Gary Humphreys, group chief underwriting officer, Markerstudy Group

The increased burden of regulation on the insurance industry, which was cited by Biba and its broker members, and the impact this is having on all aspects of business should be addressed.

While we all accept that regulation is important to safeguard both consumers and businesses, as well as ensure the most vulnerable in society are treated appropriately, we must be careful not to stifle creativity.

The insurance industry is in a constant state of evolution, whether that is in relation to the product offering or the way in which we communicate, so it’s important for us to cultivate relationships with our regulatory colleagues in order to ensure good outcomes for all.

At the Biba Conference, it was clear to see how engaged our industry continues to be with regulation and the Markerstudy team was excited to be part of the conversation.

We highlighted this further with a ‘fairground’ theme to our exhibition stand, which was deliberate in its two-pronged approach.

Firstly, putting the fun into insurance, which is our strapline, and secondly, it served as a reminder to the industry to adhere to regulations and strive for transparency and fairness for all customers.

Published by Insurance Times 6th June 2024

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