June 3, 2020 by Michael Vecchio, Sevenstep
The coronavirus pandemic could end up having a positive effect on the property and casualty insurance industry when it comes to finding new talent.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has had a strong impact on the insurance industry as a whole. But the storyline is not the same across the entire sector. Some areas are taking advantage of talent now available due to other industries (such as financial services, for example) freezing hiring or furloughing talent. Meanwhile, other insurance segments are themselves furloughing or decreasing staff.
Prior to COVID-19, the insurance sector was already facing a series of big changes, including the fact that a large population of its workforce is nearing retirement age. According to the Insurance Institute of Canada’s demographics research, more than a quarter (27%) of the property and casualty insurance workforce is expected to retire between 2017 and 2027.
Add in the development of new technology, which has been transforming the industry with dynamic new providers, and not only are the insurance products themselves changing, but so too are the people working for insurance companies. A mix of human and virtual channels has been created to provide the around-the-clock, on-demand availability that today’s consumers expect. Technology is being used to provide predictive claims, automate payouts powered by data, and to facilitate an overall frictionless claims process.
As a result, people interested in working in insurance as a career have also been changing; in turn, this is creating a recruiting opportunity for providers, especially during the pandemic.
Here are some emerging themes influencing the insurance industry’s talent search, in addition to areas of opportunity for those hiring in this sector:
In the P&C industry today, some business lines will grow while others shrink. Therefore, the ability to evaluate, shift and retrain talent (e.g. instead of going to the marketplace to find talent) could be a significant differentiator.
New players were already challenging the insurance marketplace before COVID-19. With an influx of new and emerging issues coming as a result of the pandemic, technology workflows are going to have to be succinct, or else insurers will risk losing customers to more digitally-enabled competitors. Having the right talent to build, transform and maintain insurance systems will be critical to survival and growth. An agile, smart workforce will be all but required.
While COVID-19 has forced this transition into working remotely for many industries, it really just accelerated a trend that previously existed, albeit in a limited capacity, within the insurance sector. Many insurers have sought ways to increase their operational digital footprint and connectivity while decreasing their reliance on physical brick-and-mortar locations. Procedures need to be matured regarding how to hire, train, manage, and audit a much larger remote workforce while attracting a population that will be successful in this business model.
Connecting with customers
Interacting with customers face-to-face, versus remotely, requires very different skills. As a result, different employee profiles will evolve, while also creating a need for increased training. Some turnover will be unavoidable.
Not only will there be a backlog of cases due to courts being shut down during the pandemic, but many are predicting an influx of claims and litigation as a result of COVID-19. A number of lawsuits have already emerged in Canada, including those specific to the restaurant industry, ‘civil authority’ order clause as well as class action lawsuits. From a talent-planning perspective, insurance companies will be lawyering up, literally, and looking to hire more in-house counsel, both on a contingent and full-time basis.
As the insurance industry carefully assesses business in a post-COVID-19 environment, there will undoubtedly be a change in workforce demographics as well as an up-skilling and re-skilling of the current insurance workforce population to meet changing demands.
The sector, as we know it, will likely look very different in the coming weeks, months and years.
Michael Vecchio is the executive director of client services for Sevenstep.
Feature image by iStock.com/Tadamichi