ITIC UK 2019 review

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ITIJ 221 | June 2019

This year’s UK-focused International Travel & Health Insurance Conference (ITIC) took place in the historic port town of Southampton at the stunning Harbour Hotel on 9 May. Professionals from all sectors of the industry gathered to share insights, take part in enlightening discussions and network, network, network, with a healthy dose of fizz, food and fun thrown in for good measure. With topics spanning Brexit and cruises, and our inaugural ITIC Innovation Hub, there was truly something for everyone. Over the next few pages, we summarise the speaker presentations and panel discussions and round up the networking events to give you an overview of what went down at the 21st annual ITIC UK event.

On the evening prior to the conference, welcome drinks were enjoyed by attendees at the Harbour Hotel’s HarBar; a convivial event sponsored by New Frontier Group. Conversation was flowing, as was the bubbly, and delegates were afforded an opportunity to mingle and bed in. 
 
It was a bright and early start to the conference on Thursday when, following registration and welcome coffees, it was time to broach everyone’s favourite topic, Brexit, in a session entitled ‘Brexit Impact Assessment’. Matt Francis, Director, KPMG; Alisa Dolgova, Manager, Brexit, Association of British Insurers; and Nel Mooy, Head of Travel, AXA Insurance took to the stage to discuss what the uncertainty surrounding Brexit means for insurers and how they have been preparing. Matt discussed the options available following the Brexit extension, covered the implications of deal versus no deal (which he explained are virtually the same), highlighted options available to insurers and described the ‘patchwork quilt’ of different approaches countries are taking. Alisa discussed what insurers have been doing to prepare for a no-deal event and leaving the single market, and also explored what the future UK/EU relationship might look like. She said that insurers have been taking steps to ready themselves for Brexit and that UK insurers are, on the whole, quite prepared. Looking on the bright side, she said that there are some opportunities associated with Brexit, such as building on new emerging areas such as fintech and deepening existing relationships. Planning for Brexit was very much the cornerstone of the session, with Nel offering a travel insurer’s perspective on this. She discussed the importance, should a no-deal Brexit occur, of ensuring the customer continues to be covered in an uncertain world, and also discussed the expected impact, with AXA believing that the cost of premiums will increase.
 
The following Q&A session focused on the lack of choice surrounding increasing costs in the market and the fact that, generally speaking, concerns around competition are minimal, as everybody is in the same position. “There is no choice as an industry,” said Carl Carter of Voyager. “The costs are not of the magnitude that can be absorbed.” Alisa said that it is important that each insurer looks at its own customer base and pays more attention to where its customers are travelling. 
 
it is important that each insurer looks at its own customer base and pays more attention to where their customers are travelling to
 
After a networking coffee break, it was time to regroup for the next session: ‘Cruises: Opportunities and Challenges’. The expert panellists were Nigel Lingard, a cruise and travel industry management consultant; Kate Huet, Managing Director of International Travel and Healthcare Limited; and Dr Lynn Gordon, Chief Medical Officer, MBBCh, CEGA. Nigel opened by saying that despite its reputation as a ‘sexy and newsworthy business’ the cruise industry is actually limited: “It’s a surprisingly small industry with a long way to go,” he said. He also explained that the industry has failed to make significant inroads on family markets. “There are too many wheelchairs on cruise ships for younger people to want to join in,” he stated. 
 
Kate spoke about the market’s ‘younger fraternity’ who are ‘prone to do some slightly bizarre things, especially when alcohol is involved’. She discussed what occurs on cruise ships should an outbreak take place, such as an occurrence of norovirus, in the event of which, infected passengers are required to go to their cabin until they are virus-free. She also covered the repercussions of missed ports, power cuts, and natural disasters, as well as dangers such as slips, trips and falls, which she said tend to lead to some of the largest claims. 
 
there are some opportunities associated with Brexit, such as building on new emerging areas such as fintech and deepening existing relationships
 
Dr Gordon, who has occupied her role at CEGA for four years and previously worked as a senior ship’s doctor for 20 years, discussed the challenges that assistance companies face when they need to open a case for a client onboard a cruise ship, including, for example, challenges with: communication, being notified on time and obtaining consent. Questions at the end of the session centred on medical expenses and improvements that can be made, such as the age-old wish for all passengers to have insurance, and a culture in which people are more honest about their conditions. Dr Gordon said that one problem is a basic lack of understanding; ignorance that just because they are getting on a ship in Southampton, for example, passengers may think they are in safer hands. “The perception tends to be that because I’m not flying anywhere I am fine to go – I wouldn’t dream of flying uninsured but will go on a cruise,” she said. 
 
The inaugural ITIC Innovation Hub took place at ITIC UK this year, providing the opportunity to hear from some of the brightest minds in the insurtech sector and learn of exciting industry innovations and developments. In part one of the Hub, Manjit Rana, MD Corporate Innovation (Insurtech), Rainmaking Innovation Ltd and Mark Seddon, CEO, Pact Global took to the stage. Manjit discussed how
 
available technology is changing consumer expectations
 
available technology is changing consumer expectations. He used the example of having forgotten to bring with him to the conference headphones required for a conference call. No headphones, no problem–he simply ordered a pair from Amazon which arrived the next morning. “This is changing the way we think as consumers and businesses,” he said. Mark discussed artificial intelligence and elements that are at the centre of it, including machine learning and neural networking.
 
In part two of the ITIC Innovation Hub, Domen Gluharm, Associate Director of Business Development, Babylon Health gave an interesting demonstration of how Babylon can digitally solve more than 80 per cent of medical cases remotely from the UK and the impact this can have on travel insurance business. In the demonstration, we saw him use the Babylon app on his phone in real time to respond to questions about his health. Users can quickly and easily receive a health assessment that can lead to a video consultation and advice. “We’re empowering patients to take healthcare into their own hands,”
 
the startup is working to transform cumbersome and complex insurance processes and operations into simple micro products 
 
Next, Ashley Abdelmoula, MD – UK Insurance Operations, Setoo introduced the startup, which is working to transform cumbersome and complex insurance processes and operations into simple micro products that address specific needs.
 
Networking at ITIC UK
Throughout the conference, there was a plethora of networking opportunities, with regular coffee breaks and a networking lunch. During these times, there was also
the chance to meet the conference’s exhibitors, Aquarium Software and Mears Repatriation, who were ready and waiting to meet attendees and introduce them to their services, and Capital Air Ambulance, who also brought along two state-of-the-art ground ambulances to give attendees a first-hand experience of the type of medical care these vehicles can help provide.

The Farewell Dinner that concluded the conference offered a final opportunity for attendees to gather for dinner, drinks and entertainment and round off a productive conference in style. It was a fun-filled night of laughter, singing and surprises, with good food and even better company.
 
 
To see the photo album from this event, visit our Flickr page here.
 
The next ITIC UK event will take place in Windsor on 7 May 2020. To register your interest, click here.