I am on a summer break just now, doing lots of reading and research, ready to restart the Ethics and Insurance newsletter in the second half of August. In the meantime, I’ve brought some articles together on what for UK insurers must be the big ethical issue at the moment: discrimination.
The ethical issue that UK insurers should be concentrating on right now is discrimination in their customer facing decisions systems. The risk reared its head in March this year, when Citizens Advice released their ‘ethnicity penalty’ report. While it's orientated around pricing, there’s no doubt that it encompassed claims and counter fraud decisions too.
That discrimination will at some point rear its head has been obvious since 2015, when I conducted a survey of six leading UK insurers. I was looking at how their corporate policies dealt with the question of discrimination in relation to underwriting, claims and counter fraud. The lack of attention to this was startling. It begged the obvious question: given that they were all busy developing digital decision systems, were they actually paying any attention to the risk of discrimination?
It's Gone Quiet
It is now four months since the report was published. I know that talks with the ABI and some leading insurers yielded several ‘we would not do that’ statements, but little else. What Citizens Advice are seeking is engagement with the sector, to get to the heart of ‘why this is happening’. The extent to which such engagement has since been forthcoming is unclear. Things have got very quiet, and to me, that is not something that insurers should be comfortable with. Indeed, ‘worrying’ is how I would describe it.
I will be keeping a close watch for any developments during my summer break, and reaching out to contacts inside and outside the market for feedback. In the meantime, I have put together the nine articles I’ve written in relation to the ethnicity penalty report into the remaining part of this article, for some summer reading of your own!
As subscribers to this ‘ex blog / now newsletter’ know from the 11 years or so that I’ve been writing, I aim for a mix of insight and challenge. It’s based on experience and pragmatism - I worked in the market for 18 years. And I find that this is what clients value – independent views with understanding and challenge.
So, here are the nine articles. Enjoy them, and if you have any questions, email me. If there’s any other topic you’d like to read about, check out the other topics I write about here.