What the Olympics have in Common with Insurance
Like millions of other people around the world, I’ve been glued to my television for the past couple of weeks, taken in by the spectacle that is the Olympic Games. To me, the Olympics represent competition and sportsmanship at the highest possible level, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch. However, in between all of the heartbreak and glory, I can’t help but wonder – what do the Olympics have in common with the property/casualty insurance industry?
To be clear, I’m not delusional enough to think that thousands of people will ever gather in a stadium to cheer for outstanding subrogation efforts or excellence in reserving. Likewise, diversified risk will likely never make the front page of your local newspaper, and great claims adjusters will never know global fame. However, many of the challenges faced by Olympic athletes are not uncommon to the challenges faced today in the insurance industry.
Excellence is achieved daily. The Olympics are, of course, every four years. However, the process of training and qualifying for the Olympics is a much longer process. Similarly, insurers must earn their reputation on a daily basis. Neither a world class athlete nor an insurer can afford to rest on their laurels and coast.
Success is the result of team efforts. Even for individual Olympic sports, there’s an entire community around the athlete to support him/her. There aren’t many athletes that would go very far without the help of coaches, trainers, friends, and family. Insurance is no different. Although a customer might only interact with a few people from his/her insurer on an annual basis, the number of employees supporting the transactions behind the scenes is significant. From successfully assessing risk to handling claims, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of people that are crucial to the process.
Competition is fierce. In the Olympics, fractions of a second or a couple of inches can be the difference between winning a medal or not. Despite the fact that insurers may not receive instantaneous feedback about how they stack up against the competition in the same way that the Olympic athletes do, you can be assured that the competition is every bit as intense. In the same way that athletes must always be thinking about innovative new strategies or training regiments that might give them the edge, insurers that want to stay relevant must continually seek ways to differentiate themselves in order to retain current customers and to win new business.
Clearly there are also many things that are quite different between the Olympics and insurance (see a replay of the Opening Ceremonies if you don’t believe that), but the commonalities are there. With the London Olympics behind us, athletes around the world are already setting their sights on Rio in 2016. There will be ups and downs along the way, but success and failure will ultimately be determined by each athlete’s ability to execute against his/her long-term goal. Sounds a lot like the insurance industry, doesn’t it?