COMMENT: Where were the Queen's honours for insurance workers?

Published in: UK, Covid-19

The Queen’s birthday honours, for those who don’t know, are an ancient way for our monarch to decorate citizens for their contribution to society and bravery. 

Many of the recipients come from the senior ranks of the civil service, military and government. But in recent years, the list has become more diverse and tried to shine a spotlight on the good works done by more humble members of our communities.

Last week’s honours recognised many in the social care sector and others who have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis.

They also included a handful of staff working in retail banks, honoured for their services to the financial sector and community during the pandemic, and two staff at the state-owned British Business Bank.

But aside from two financial regulators, there were no insurance-related workers in the list. 

I can only speculate why that was. First, the industry may not have the cheerleaders it needs. As a reminder, anyone can nominate someone for an award. So why not go for it? Maybe insurance will get its turn at the New Years’ honours? 

Customers may have struggled to think of someone worth nominating. For most people, insurance is a buy-and-forget product, and there is little personal contact with customers. According to a report from Deloitte this month, 81% of UK motor insurance customers buy their policies online. In Italy, 60% are bought in person. So maybe it’s the price to pay for “efficiency”? 

Perhaps insurance’s perennial image problem is at play? The role of insurance in society is consistently underappreciated. The situation during Covid-19 may not have helped: while billions were paid out in claims for deaths and cancellations of holidays and events – and £100m ($129m) was raised for charity – the one thing highlighted in the media (mea culpa) was the rejection of business interruption claims. 

I don’t doubt there were many people toiling at insurers during the crisis, to ensure services could continue seamlessly and to secure the resilience of insurers to future crises.

So if the Queen doesn’t find a place to honour you, perhaps you would prefer to be judged by your peers?

Nominations for InsuranceERM’s annual EMEA awards open at the end of this month. As usual, we’re looking for companies, teams and individuals who have excelled in the fields of risk and capital management – and we would be delighted to hear about your Covid-19 successes.

Christopher Cundy
[email protected]