Matthew Bestwick - UK General
Welcome all who happen to have stumbled across this chaotic reassemble of memories of my introduction to the world of insurance. Hopefully there will be something in here for the seasoned veterans as well as those fresh minds who are still daunted by the jargon, the “grey suits” (I write this bearing russet trousers…) and the relentless drive.
I joined insurance in 2011, my first leap into industry after 3 years training with a small independent local firm of chartered accountants. The recession of 2007 onward was well underway and the jobs market not great. However, here was a newly formed insurance group, full of ambition, and a host of technical minds who would have a lot to offer me as I developed my career. All I knew about insurance prior to 2011 was that car insurance for young persons was extortionate, there were several brokers on the high street that I never frequented, and that Norwich Union must be the biggest insurance company in the world – having studied at York university and marvelled as the size of the new building on the river Ouse. This accolade actually belongs to China’s Ping An Insurance Group, accordingly Forbes 2017 report with revenue of $106.6 billion.
Moving from a world of counting tangible assets (my favourite being a stock take in a massive freezer at -24 degrees Celsius where the ink in your pen freezes) to a wholly intangible asset was a shock to the system, and this was before people started discussing ULR’s, OSLR and IBNR, For the uninitiated: ULR is ultimate loss ratio, that is, premium divided by claims (the lower the better for performance but too low and this isn’t good value for the consumer and other competitors are likely to price you out of the market); OSLR is the outstanding loss reserve, that is, known claims yet to pay out; and IBNR stands for incurred but not yet reported, that is, the forecast unknown claims based on historical data and any known impacts to latest outturn.
My view from the outside was vastly different to my view from the inside. Insurance is a changing industry, and it needs to, with the digital agenda driving new ideas and ways of working. I continue to learn every day and watch eagerly as insurance takes shape to serve the risks of the modern human-being.