Chubb: Thought leadership article from Nick Lee
 Chubb in the UK

Adapting to the New Normal

  • Nick Lee, Head of Major Accounts Division UK & Ireland, Chubb

Nick Lee, Head of Major Accounts Division UK & Ireland, Chubb

‘Adapting to the New Normal'

Nick Lee, Head of Major Accounts Division UK & Ireland, Chubb

As I sit here looking back over the events of this year, who would have thought, even as recently as March, that I would be spending the next several months working from home; not being able to physically meet with clients and brokers or even to interact face to face with colleagues.

We are now back in our offices and it is nice to have that camaraderie with returning colleagues once more. This is one of the things I have missed most and I suspect many of you feel the same, wherever you are working.

As some aspects of our working lives start to normalise again a little, I look back on our achievements as a business over the last few months with a sense of pride. From the outset Chubb prioritised the importance of being with our families whenever possible to support them at what, for many people, has been and remains an extremely difficult time.

For the Major Accounts Division at Chubb, which I lead for the UK&I business, we adjusted fantastically well to what is often described as the “New Normal.” The safety of our business partners, customers and employees was the fundamental consideration as we switched to operating remotely - and this has been a great success. Our systems have worked brilliantly, our team fully motivated and we continued to trade effectively with our broker partners – some brokers have commented that we are even more responsive than we were pre-lockdown!

 So, very quickly we adapted to this new way of working. Yes, it could and still can be hard work and the hours can sometimes be long because everything takes just a bit more time but we have always stayed open for business and trading is good.

In the Major Accounts space, we always talk about the need for effective tripartite working - client, broker and insurer all collaborating as best we can to maximise the benefits of that relationship for everyone involved.  And while this has worked well in the past, I believe now is really the time when we take this to the next level, respecting appropriate boundaries of course.

The fact that many of us are still unable to meet face to face, bump into someone in the market or simply network, means that we now all collectively need to be closer than ever before, even if that cannot always be done physically. Technology definitely helps this. I am sure initially many of us were a bit camera shy, but that has changed over time and now we are all very used to conducting virtual meetings over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and the like - and we show our faces! This is extremely important for several reasons:

  • The market is incredibly challenging right now. I can remember the last hard market which ended more than 15 years ago but there are many working in the industry on all sides of the fence for whom this is completely alien. Working together to talk through what is happening and its impact can really help everyone, even if it is just to provide reassurance. For example, an insurer who might have to articulate the need for rate change or a coverage restriction, a client to understand the rationale behind any programme changes so they can manage Board expectations, and a broker as discussions may assist them to mould and adapt their broking strategy to ensure a successful placement outcome for their client. The key to making all of this work of course is good, open and timely engagement.
  • The new normal presents certain challenges, such as increased cyber risks with many people continuing to work from home; health and safely challenges around appropriate ways of working and equipment; and altered risk exposures as we reopen industrial, travel and leisure facilities. Whatever the issues, what better way to get everyone on the same page than open and explicit tripartite engagement?
  • Mid-year account stewardship is also incredibly important. I have participated in numerous such virtual meetings in recent months and they have worked exceptionally well. This is a great forum for clients, brokers and insurers alike to take a look in the rear-view mirror to see what went well at the last renewal, what perhaps did not, and areas for focus or improvement next year. It also creates the perfect opportunity to review the status of policy issuance, premium payment status, outstanding account administration, claims positions and the like. Most importantly for me, it also enables dialogue to commence re the next renewal. No-one likes last minute surprises, particularly Boards, so engagement which gets potentially troublesome issues on the table in a timely way not only helps with this, but also it allows for alternative options to be explored.

In short, true and open collaboration is the best and most effective way that each party has of achieving their expectations because priorities, desired outcomes, deal breakers and so on are all known about by each party from the outset. This will hopefully lead to greater clarity of objective, more aligned thinking and ultimately a longer, more successful and fulfilling relationship for all of us.

We recognise that these are fairly unprecedented times for everyone and we want our clients and partners to know that we will always be there for them – both now and in the future.

Nick Lee is Head of Major Accounts Division UK & Ireland at Chubb