ILC ARTICLE

Industry interview: Adrian Furness, Managing Director, Motor Repair, Activate Group


Adrian Furness has a unique perspective on the challenges facing automotive claims, having worked on both sides of the sector.

Here, he shares his views on the key issues impacting the industry and explains how Activate Group helps to overcome them through its expanding portfolio of services.

Tell us about your business.

I’ve recently joined Activate Group, an accident management specialist that handles hundreds of thousands of claims every year. We support fleets through sopp+sopp, and handle insurance claims through Motor Repair Network.

We have our own chain of repair centres – Activate Accident Repair – that works alongside an approved nationwide repair network. We also have a specialist parts division called Activate Parts.

I’ve joined the business at a very exciting time because we recently announced a new investment deal with a private equity firm, Elysian Capital. This gives us the opportunity to accelerate our growth strategy so we can really be a transformational leader in the industry.

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

Since joining Activate Group, I’ve made it a priority to spend time with insurers and MGAs to understand more about their challenges, and how we can support them. Activate Group has a lot to offer in a very competitive market; my priority is to make the best use of our core capabilities to solve problems for our partners.

In the wider industry, repair capacity has been a challenge, which is why we’ve invested in our own Activate Accident Repair centres. We have nine sites now, with another set to open in March.

The sites are in areas where demand is highest and complement the footprint of our existing repair network. They’re purpose-built and equipped with the very best technology, giving us additional control over capacity so we can deliver for our customers.

Parts supply has also been a big challenge for the industry. It’s starting to ease, but it’s still far more of a challenge than it was four or five years ago.

Our parts supply division, Activate Parts, is in a unique position to support customers with parts sourcing, data, and strategy. As an ex-insurer, my eyes lit up when I heard Activate Group had in-house parts capability. It’s an area of the business with real growth potential.

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

“Don’t change who you are, just be the best version of you.”

It can be tempting to try to emulate other successful leaders, or present a false image to impress other people. It sounds a bit corny, but the best piece of advice I’ve ever had is to be yourself. When you’re representing a business, you want to build trust. You can only do that by being open and honest – people can tell if you’re not being yourself.

In the claims industry I’ve found that building business relationships is particularly important for long-term success, and I think trust is at the heart of that.

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

Some of the challenges I’ve already mentioned are easing, but I don’t expect them to go away completely. Repair capacity is coming back into the market, partly thanks to significant investment from companies like ours. There is still a shortage of skilled technicians, and as an industry we must maintain our commitment to apprenticeships.

We’re also looking at other solutions, including bringing in skilled overseas talent to ensure we have the right capability in place to support our customers.

Consumer Duty will also have a significant impact on the insurance industry over the next year.

Market forces are pushing up costs, and insurance premiums are increasing as a result. In general, policyholders aren’t always aware of these industry-specific challenges, so it’s down to insurers and their supply partners to demonstrate value for money.

We’ll support our customers in this by delivering an excellent claims service, with quick and efficient repairs and great communication throughout.

How would you like to see the insurance industry change by the time you retire – what is next for your business?

I’d like to see us build greater trust with our policyholders, by placing the customer at the forefront of our decisions. When we develop technology, let’s do it with the customer in mind. When we make investment decisions, let’s consider how it benefits our clients.

We’ve talked about this for a long time as an industry, but in reality it has often been deprioritised.

I firmly believe that delivering great service leads to profitability, and I have high hopes that the new consumer duty regulations will have a positive long-term impact on our industry.

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