ILC Industry leader interview – Lesley Johnson, Chief Operating Officer – Casualty & Motor Claims at Davies Group

What are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?

“There are a few challenges facing the motor claims market right now, fluctuating volumes due to the impact of the pandemic, supply chain challenges with the well-publicised  shortage of new vehicle stock and skilled labour putting pressure on repair and hire networks and of course the launch of the Official Injury Claims (OIC) portal. 

As expected there are teething issues with the portal. However, the lack of public awareness is a concern and does need to be addressed if the expected benefits are to be realised. It has been reported that no advertising budget was allocated to the portal and that there are concerns over general instructions and visibility via search engines.  

Getting interaction with the OIC portal right will be a game-changer, providing a competitive advantage for those who do. Whilst the proportion of claims reaching the settlement stage is still relatively small as settlement volumes increase, data collection & analysis will be key to gain insight and shape strategy. We are utilising our AI led data analysis model to examine claims for consistency at each stage by for example comparing data from initial phone calls to medical reports. Our AI also supports `know your opponent` analysis to understand behaviours. It gives insurers an edge in getting accurate information on claimant and representative behaviours and tactics to ensure we are always one step ahead.  

Working closely with our legal solutions colleagues in Keoghs, we are sharing our insights with clients and working with them to develop and refine strategies to give them the best possible real-life outcomes.”

What has been your biggest business learning from the coronavirus pandemic?

“We already knew our staff were our biggest asset but their response to working through the pandemic took it to another level with colleagues remaining incredibly resilient and flexible.  Fortunately, we were already technically enabled to adapt quickly to home working which meant our business remained strong through a turbulent time. The pandemic has emphasised the importance of staying connected and taking care of each other. Keeping in touch when we’re not physically together has been a big priority at Davies. We’ve been active in mental health awareness initiatives, championing mental health team activities and collaborating with mental health organisation Headspace. The varied approach has allowed staff flexibility to choose how and when they interact be it a group activity or individual guided meditation. We have also encouraged participation in a variety of fundraising activities through our charity, The Davies Foundation,  supporting over 15 mental health and wellbeing charities that are close to the hearts of our employees. Even though there is now a lot more face to face interaction with employees returning in whole or in part to offices, we won’t be reducing our focus on mental health.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was to embrace change. Change can be daunting, especially when things move quickly. However, on reflection I can’t recall a single time when change hasn’t been positive. I’ve learnt over the years that it’s best not to fear or resist change, instead focus on how to get involved, influence the direction and maximise the benefits that change brings. Thankfully, the insurance industry does not stand still for a moment so there is plenty of opportunity to embrace change.”  

What would be your prediction for the industry in the next year?

“I predict not just a continued focus on and investment in technology but a significant ramp up in this area with a spotlight on improving the customer journey. We have been focussed for some time on introducing innovative technology to make the customer journey seamless, quick and easy. Perfecting omni and multi-channel options to reduce friction as far as possible I believe will continue to receive significant attention in the year to come.

Not so much a prediction as a wish, I am hoping that fresh from COP26 the insurance industry will find innovative and effective ways to use its influence to help drive and support the transition to a net-zero economy. The UN-convened Net-Zero Insurance Alliance set up earlier this year is a welcome start. The FCA quickly followed with its Climate Change Adaptation report in October 2021 and publication of the ABI’s climate change roadmap to net zero. Around the same time, the Government’s policy paper on Greening Finance was released which was well received by the insurance industry. With many insurers signing up to net zero targets, hopefully as an industry we can make a significant contribution.”

How would you like to see the insurance industry change by the time you retire?

“The insurance industry is a fascinating, challenging, and diverse place to work. With a wide range of career routes and plenty of opportunities to progress, grow and succeed, it’s a fantastic place to build a career. The last 18 months have proven that it’s also resilient, a huge positive in today’s quickly changing business environments. However, it sometimes feels like it’s the best kept secret, as a career in insurance isn’t often an aspiration of many young people, which means not much has changed since I left school. Sharing experiences with colleagues and clients over the years has reinforced that view, with most reporting having ended up in insurance by chance.

I’d like to see more young people aspire to a career in insurance because they have been attracted to all that the industry has to offer. We need to find a way to educate young people and get the message across earlier. Most will have had little or no experience of insurance so have no frame of reference regarding a career in the industry. Raising awareness by promoting the diversity of opportunity, providing clear and relatable career paths and structured development supported by training and investment in professional qualifications is essential. 

By the time I retire I would love to see a career in insurance joining medicine, dentistry & law as a first choice career for our brightest young people.”


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