We take a look at the growing complexity of the insurance realm and speak to Peter Olyott, CEO of Indwe Risk Services, about the company’s recent developments in South Africa.
“Whilst we have built our business on the traditional broking strengths of technical knowledge and subject matter expertise and proficiency, we embrace and lead change in our sector.”
Peter Olyott has been involved in the insurance sector since 1981, where he started his career as a trainee underwriter with what was formerly the Mutual and Federal Insurance Company in Johannesburg. Today, he is CEO of Indwe Risk Services (Indwe), South Africa’s leading short-term broker for personal, business, industrial and commercial insurance.
Standing as a full-service advisory and intermediary business, Indwe’s clients range from individuals and groups through to small, medium and large businesses.
The company is primarily located in South Africa, and Indwe is represented in both physical and virtual branches spanning 25 offices across the country. In addition, through the company’s Allied Africa Broker Network, it can provide products and services through its partners in over 16 African countries, and employs around 400 people directly within the business.
“We are able to offer solutions from non-life, healthcare (through our partnerships), life and investments, and employee benefits through our Indwe BlueStar business in association with Sanlam,” Olyott informs us. “From the use of technology to improve our risk management offerings, to partnering with specialists to bring our individual clients technology-based solutions for their personal insurance requirements, we are big enough to matter and small enough to care, and we instil a desire to continue to learn and improve throughout our business.”
HOW INDWE RISK SERVIES ADAPTS IN THE INDUSTRY
For both Olyott and Indwe, South Africa is proving to be a difficult space to operate within at present. COVID-19 has both impacted the national economy and the company in various ways, although not all the impacts are negative.
“For one, I believe that COVID-19 and the lockdowns have propelled us into the future far quicker than we had planned, and we now have a combination of virtual offices – replacing some of our brick-and-mortar offices around the country – and some hybrid offices,” Olyott explains.
“Thanks to our support teams, we have been able to transition from a traditional location-based brokerage to a virtual nationwide operation with all of our services delivered remotely during the first few months of the most serious initial lockdowns.
“We have come through, albeit a little battered and bruised, but also a lot smarter in terms of the way we operate. There are industries whose mature status was exacerbated by COVID-19 and others whose new status has been accelerated by the pandemic. Likewise, our business has had to adapt to ensure that we are geared for a changing world.”
According to Olyott, both the life and non-life sector have been severely impacted by COVID-19 in terms of claims for death and disability on the one hand and contingent business interruption on the other.
“A plethora of lawsuits dealing with the interpretation of cover have been needed to ensure legal certainty, but obviously did not win any plaudits from consumers who saw this as another attempt by the industry to avoid its obligations,” he says. “So importantly, post-COVID-19, we have some industry brand rebuilding to undertake.”
DEMAND AND DEVELOPMENT
Insurance is undoubtedly a complex and detailed business. For Olyott, it requires marrying the knowledge and understanding of a client’s lifestyle or business with specific knowledge and expertise of the products and services Indwe provides. A core part of this adaptation in an ever-changing industry is keeping up with the latest business developments.
“Indwe has been busy with its digitalisation strategy for some time, beginning with the consolidation of and access to all client information,” Olyott says. “Then we have developed some internal tools to assist our advisors in the complex process of reviewing our clients’ risk and insurance needs. These tools allow us to talk to clients across the risk spectrum, whether it be personal or for business.
“The tools also allow us to record the information and to start the process of benchmarking certain covered policy limits across our client base, further enabling our advisors to provide high quality advice to our clients.”
When it comes to the field of personal insurance, Indwe has partnered with Cntrl, a technology company that supports Indwe’s Blupixl™, a digital advice option aimed at individual clients.
“Whilst these are early days, we believe all providers will need to provide clients with choices of convenience in terms of how our clients choose to deal with us,” Olyott comments.
And on the complex and corporate risk side, Indwe has embraced the use of drone technology to improve the quality of both data and risk analysis of larger and more complex risks.
“As we use the technology, we improve our use of it and also find additional applications for such tools, helping us to further improve our advice and information offerings to our clients,” Olyott continues. “The COVID-19 pandemic has probably positively influenced the development and refinement of these digital tools quicker than if it had not happened. As we say internally, it is amazing when you do not have a choice, how quickly we can adapt.”
SCOPE OF THE FUTURE
As the world becomes an infinitely more complex place due to the necessity of environmental consideration, regulations and legislation, technology and social changes, today’s risk and insurance advisors need to continually improve their knowledge of pertinent subjects ranging from climate change to cybercrime, and even pandemics.
In light of this, Indwe’s key priorities for the rest of 2021 and beyond remain focused on adapting to such necessities, as well as looking after clients’ risk and insurance interests through the application of sound advice, modern risk and insurance technology, and appropriate cost-effective financial solutions; this is set at the core of the company.
“We are seeking to expand in our chosen sectors where we have already built up some critical mass, and we are looking to continue to build on our internationally linked business where we have enjoyed good success over the past three years in particular,” Olyott concludes. “Our broker support business, Acuideas, continues to grow from strength to strength and we now look after more than 120 independent brokers in South Africa with a variety of product offerings and services that keep us ahead of the competition in the sector.”