Last week the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) conference was held in Manchester. Here Sarah Mortimer aka @ILSDiva, talks about the massive broker event.
A lot of change, but also similarities
The last time I went to the BIBA conference was back in 2009 when I worked as a reporter for Post magazine, and nine years later I found myself back in Manchester, scoping out the conference to see what was new in general insurance (GI). There were a LOT of similarities – including many familiar faces – but I was also pleased to see a bigger and more professional event than I’ve witnessed before.
With over 7,000 attending, it is a new record for BIBA, and I reckon it’s now probably the biggest insurance event in the world. I thought RIMS in the US might have been a contender, but BIBA can boast a more industry-specific delegate list.
The main difference I noticed was the power of social media. Who would have ever thought that an insurance event would ever trend at number TWO on Twitter – #BIBA2016 was hogging the limelight as different stands held twitter competitions, journalists and delegates tweeted from seminars and a bit of fun was had. I even got involved – holding a shoe-off with the Axa’s Amanda Blanc, who is lucky to have smaller feet than me otherwise she might wake up one day to find her shoe collection missing!
Heartfelt story of compassion shows insurance how to do PR
However, for me, the most impactful message to come out of the conference was a story that was presented to the morning crowd on the first day by BIBA Chief Executive Steve White of a couple that were struggling to get travel insurance.
In a nutshell, Graeme Trudgill introduced us to the Liversidge family, where it was established that terminally ill young father Jason Liversidge, is the only person in the world with both Motor Neurone and Fabry disease.
Despite raising £15,000 to take their two small children to Disney World in Florida, they struggled to get insurance – so far, so unfair. Eventually, Liz Liversidge tweeted for help. This was picked up by Greg Broadhurst, a BIBA broker and Motor Neurone Disease Association volunteer, who retweeted asking BIBA for help. BIBA picked it up and managed to secure coverage for them.
I don’t know how much they had to pay for their insurance, but footage of the couple’s two small children bouncing around in excitement in front of Mickey and Minnie Mouse was enough to make it not an issue. All because of an exasperated tweet from a frustrated mother and wife.
Of course this is exactly the type of story that the industry needs to promote. But how often does the media write “people get insurance because of broker”. Never. Outside the trade press, no media gives any coverage of insurance – despite the fact that UK brokers contribute 1% to the UK economy. Trust me, I worked for the national press. They are just not interested.
The power of social media for the insurance industry
Liz Liversidge said in the interview that she had no joy using comparison sites, and it was the specialist knowledge of an educated broker that eventually helped her and her family take the trip of a lifetime. That was the theme that BIBA wanted to promote, but for me it was much more about the power of social media.
This was a prime example of the insurance industry taking the opportunity to engage directly with the public. The fact of the matter is that social media, if used strategically, is the most powerful form of marketing the sector has ever seen. It’s an opportunity to go fishing where your fish are. Even if they don’t know or don’t care who you are.
Should BIBA communicate more?
Insurance brokers have proved time and time again that they are a formidable bunch. How many times have they heard predictions of their demise? However, in an era in which technology prevails, social media should be seen as an indispensable tool for brokers – it’s a way for BIBA to communicate with its members, and for BIBA brokers to communicate directly with the public.
On a final note, I am pleased that some things have not changed about the BIBA conference – I have come away with two bags of free swag that will keep me in the good graces of my two boys for a while!
I’m already looking forward to next year’s event…