Canadian Underwriter

The key demographic noticing the industry’s technological pivot

September 9, 2020   by Adam Malik

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The property and casualty insurance industry’s response following the global declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it adjusted quickly in numerous aspects, especially technology, has made the industry more attractive to new graduates, according to a recent report.

While the industry has been moving into a more technologically-driven ecosystem over the last number of years — though some may argue at a pace far too slow — “the last several months have brought a tidal wave of new changes upon us, and forced the industry to innovate and operate in ways we never thought possible,” said MG Kristian, executive vice president of human resources at Mitchell International. The company develops software to manage collision claims, among other aspects.

Her report, Getting Into Insurance? The Insurance Industry Outlook is Brighter than Ever, outlined that rapid changes like increased technology use, people-centric business models and newly-flexible work environments have helped the insurance industry become even more appealing, especially to recent graduates.

Technology is certainly something that catches the attention of young people, observed John McNeil, and they often don’t realize how much of it is used in insurance.

“Technology is one thing I like to lean into when I’m talking to students,” said the program coordinator and full-time professor for Humber College’s insurance management program post-graduate certificate. “A perfect example is the use of drones. We used them during [the wildfire in] Fort McMurray and students didn’t even know anything about that. Or accident reconstruction scenes — these types of things, students don’t know anything about it.”

For most of those students, their knowledge of insurance comes from their experience as a consumer. “One thing they don’t realize is its presence — it’s everywhere,” McNeil said.

“With technology, they don’t even know that we’re using technology,” he added.

In many cases, the most technologically-advanced aspect of insurance from a young person’s perspective is in the form of insurance rate comparison websites.

“That’s all they know of now,” McNeil said. “Maybe they have an app. They don’t know about the technology that goes on beyond that and behind the scenes — how we might be harnessing big data; how we might be investigating claims.

“They still think we’re in the dark ages.”

In her report, Kristian stressed the importance of keeping the foot on the pedal when it comes to technology, in addition to the other key factors she mentioned: mission-driven, people-centric business models; newly flexible working environments and strong company cultures; and diverse and inclusive workforce.

“While it’s true we’re not Google or Apple, we are an industry that is adopting and implementing the latest technology. We’ve been talking for years about artificial intelligence, the internet of things, virtualization, cloud computing and more, which is also attractive for graduates who have grown up technologically savvy and see the benefits of the latest innovations,” she wrote.

“The pandemic has also removed hesitancy and roadblocks in technology adoption, jumping us years ahead in just a few short months. While a dramatic change for most of us, for the generation entering the workplace they’re thinking, ‘It’s about time!’”

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