So, what did we learn in 2018? And – dare I ask – what challenges await us in 2019?

Brendan Little, Head of Sales and Marketing at DAS Ireland, shares some thoughts ahead of what promises to be another interesting year.

19th December 2018

The year that was can be summed up in two words: Customer and Compliance. I’d hasten to add here that by the very nature of our business, these are of course always central, but during this year our customers – and how we manage their data – came sharply into focus with the introduction of GDPR and the IDD directive.

Then from an operational perspective, 2018 for me was all about developments in technology, improved efficiencies in the transaction of business, improved products and, of course, Brexit.

Anyway, here are my thoughts…

IDD

The IDD Regulations represented a significant change in the rules around the distribution of insurance products, and the industry had to ensure compliance by the 1st October. The aim was to increase consumer confidence and create business opportunities – particularly cross-border – while increasing sales and spurring further innovation in the industry.

The year that was can be summed up in two words: Customer and Compliance.

Key changes included the introduction of standardised Insurance Product Information Documents (IPIDs) which provide clearer information for consumers, backed by the introduction of some serious penalties for breaches. As the directive only came into force in October, it is still too early to see how this will play out. Watch this space.

GDPR

From the early days of 2018 we were all focused on GDPR. Most knew what it meant in theory but it seemed to take the insurance world a while to fully grasp what the practical implications were and how it would impact on our industry and our customers. Then, come 25th May, everyone ran for cover. What was going to happen?

Well, there were always likely to be some high profile cases of breaches, and both Eir and Facebook took some GDPR heat during the year. It was a report from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, however, that really highlighted how unprepared some organisations were when it came to dealing with the new, more stringent, obligations.

Within two months of the regulations coming into force, the commission had received 1184 reports of data breaches involving people’s personal information – compared to the 2017 monthly average of 230 – with GDPR applying in 953 cases.

Technology

There has been much discussion this year around technological innovation, in terms of the way insurance is transacted now and in future, the potential benefits of this to consumers, and the wider industry.

At DAS Group we are building an innovation portfolio to incubate, accelerate and evolve product propositions and operations. This involves close collaboration across the ERGO and Munich-Re group, business partners, and the insurtech ‘start-up’ community to focus and drive innovation effort.

And our colleagues at DAS UK scored world firsts in 2018 with legal insurance skills launched on the voice-activated devices Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.

These are exciting times, and the potential of all this insurtech innovation is huge – as long as we always keep that eye on why we’re doing all this, and ultimately the consumer. 

So what can we expect in 2019?

Gazing into the crystal ball it looks fairly clear that Brexit will occupy much of the beginning of the year and beyond.

How have providers prepared for the UK leaving the EU on the 29th March 2019? Have all the necessary regulatory requirements been put in place? What impact will Brexit have on the products available in the market?

By now, most carriers have arrangements in place but, it is only after March 29th that we will feel the true impact. Unless of course there is an agreement for a transition. With so much yet to be decided, I’m reminded of that advert with the surfer and the horses. He waits...

How all this will impact on the placement of insurance in the Irish market is still a little unclear. My feeling is that in 2019 compliance and distribution will still be very visible with continued increased pressures on insurers and intermediaries to be vigilant in the transaction of insurance. But then, that’s hardly a bad thing – back to that ‘taking care of the consumer’ point again. 

that’s the thing about change – it always brings with it opportunity

So yes there will be challenges but it’s by no means all doom and gloom as that’s the thing about change – it always brings with it opportunity; and you can be sure that we will still be here to provide you with the legal advice, support and assistance to help  you and your customers navigate through these ‘interesting’ times.

Wishing everyone a restful Christmas and all the very best for 2019.

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