Can Reinsurance PR be sexy?
Let’s face it, the insurance market is not seen as sexy – especially not sexy to most young people at university looking to embark on exciting new careers. Many students view the insurance sector as boring at best, and at worst as money-grabbing and reluctant to pay out claims. (It doesn’t help that, at times, the industry has been hostile to the likes of millennials in insurance.)
Almost no one of that age has heard of Lloyd’s of London, let alone have a clue about what specialty markets are, far less what reinsurance is.
I am fairly new to this sector, and am constantly amazed by how interesting it is, and how little is known about it from the outside world. So, when Rein4ce was asked by one of its clients to speak to master students from FH Wiener Neustadt University of Applied Sciences in Austria, I jumped at the chance to show them just how ethical, varied and important this world is.
Doing PR for reinsurance – and PR – industries
My colleague Helen Smith (@helensmithpr) and I (@rein4ceCaitlin) were faced with a double challenge, however. Not only is the insurance sector facing an image problem, our own sector of public relations also has a reputational issue – from the outside world we are seen as spin doctors and manipulators of truth. What a combination!
But doing international public relations for the global insurance market really is exciting and I felt immense pride while hosting the group. It was great to be able to talk about this fascinating market which keeps the world running after terrible events and our experience in communicating this complex world, and to pass on our pearls of wisdom to the students.
At the workshop, held in our office in the City of London, the first thing we had to do was explain what specialty insurance, Lloyd’s and reinsurance are. It is a fairly simple thing to explain and it quickly grabbed their attention.
The only way is ethics
During the talk, there were two questions that stood out for me. Firstly, we were asked what would we do if a client of ours is operating in an unethical way? The first answer is that we would never lie for a client or to a journalist. Our success as an agency is based, among other things, on our ethics and core values matching that of our clients.
Therefore, it is essential when taking on new clients that we do our due diligence to ensure we are able to work effectively with them for the best outcome. If we had a reputation for lying about our clients or not being honest or ethical, no self-respecting journalist would take our calls nor would market participants want to be our clients.
The power of regulation
What is more, our industry and our clients are very heavily regulated and have a business built on trust. Insurance, by definition, is a transaction in which an individual or company makes an agreement to pay money if something unpleasant happens. This means that in order to be a successful business the clients we work with must have a trusting relationship with their insureds, who can rely upon them to pay out when they have a legitimate claim. This year the Financial Conduct Authority proposed that all general insurance companies should have to report their claims data every year. In an article from the Financial Times, it was reported that the claims acceptance rate on home insurance varied from 100% to 84.9%.
CSR – showing the industry cares
The second question the group asked was what kind of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes does the insurance and reinsurance industry have? The insurance and reinsurance industries collectively probably spend millions of pounds each year on CSR activities.
One of our biggest issues as a PR agency is getting them to talk about their good work as they don’t see it as something to brag about. Rather, they see it as standard practice as a company. For example, without the insurance industry, many charities in Bermuda would simply not exist.
Lloyd’s Dive In
Another success story is Lloyd’s of London’s Dive In Festival, which is now a global celebration of diversity and inclusion. D&I is now at the top of insurance and reinsurance companies’ agendas around the world. What is more, charities in the City of London, such as the Sick Children’s Trust – Rein4ce’s own chosen charity – receive substantial contributions from the insurance industry.
What is clear from the questions Helen and I received is that the industry needs to understand how important it is to shout about the good work it does – whether it is the high ethical standards of the sector, the vital support insurers provide clients in their time of need, or the donations of time and money they make to charitable causes.
That is why having a communications strategy is essential for companies and the industry as a whole to start trying to change the common perception held by the outside world. As part of my research for this blog, I came across a study from Vertafore on millennials in insurance. The 2018 study found that 76% of millennials in the insurance industry have been in the market for at least three years. The market seems to have no problem keeping new recruits – the problem we need to work on is telling them about how great the industry is in the first place to entice them in.