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Behind the scenes with BIBA ahead of 2014 conference

At a glance

  • Hard-hitting themes, as well as a stellar cast, promise to make May event a must for insurance brokers
  • Returning to Manchester, BIBA 2014 to focus on the needs of the customer
  • Big names lined up for insurance industry event, including former Prime Minister Sir John Major

This year’s BIBA event, which is being held over May 14-15, returns to the spacious surrounds of Manchester Central with more than 5,000 members of the insurance industry expected, including 3,000 brokers.

The overriding theme of BIBA 2014 is a focus on the customer, as well as some stellar speakers. A raft of politicians from across the political spectrum, which includes Sir John Major, Lord Prescott and Ming Campbell, as next year’s General Election looms into view.

“Our members welcome the lobbying and representation that we do,” said Steve White (pictured), Chief Executive of BIBA. “And it is important we remain tuned into the political debate, as BIBA is now recognised in Westminster as a go-to organisation.”

With the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) saying that the customer must be at the heart of all brokers’ businesses, it is not surprising that a lot of BIBA’s initiatives for 2014, as well as much of the conference debate, is focused on this area. Earlier this year, BIBA launched the BIBA-Acturis Insurance Price Index, which measures the cost of insurance for businesses, both large and small.

Bookings are ahead of this time last year, so it promises to be a blockbuster event

Graeme Trudgill, BIBA’s Executive Director

“The price index gives us a litmus test on the movement of premiums,” said Graeme Trudgill, BIBA’s Executive Director. “It helps us to identify where and why insurance costs are increasing for small businesses and consumers.”

Regulatory focus

And, as ever, regulation continues to be a huge topic for brokers – with debate at BIBA 2014 set to focus on levels of oversight and also the looming menace from Brussels, that of the second coming of the Insurance Mediation Directive, or IMD2 for short.

The FCA will also be out in force at BIBA 2014, and will have a dedicated stand in the main hall for brokers to visit.

“Insurance broking is the lowest risk of all the sectors the FCA looks after,” said White. “We represent no systemic risk, yet for brokers we have the largest regulatory burden of anywhere in the civilised world.

“We are in favour of regulation. Not light touch, but the right touch. And at the moment, it is too heavy a touch.”

Are you looking forward to BIBA 2014?

On the issue of Europe, White believes the final text of the IMD2, which promises to fundamentally change the way insurance brokers operate in Europe with the potential introduction of mandatory commission disclosure, could be agreed by the end of this year before being implemented in the first quarter of 2017. That said, BIBA’s chief executive says this date is just an educated guess as the “horse trading in trialogue over IMD2” has yet to even begin.

Conference aims

Earlier this year, BIBA launched its 2014 manifesto to much fanfare, with ‘delivering access to suitable insurance protection’ top of its aims. Another customer-focused aspiration, BIBA is planning to push this message – that of helping customers access cover, however tricky – to an even wider audience at the conference.

“In my platform address this year, I will be calling on the industry to deliver on this manifesto pledge,” said White. “And if you can’t help, then you must signpost to someone who can.”

Another focus of the two-day conference in Manchester will be on small businesses.

“SMEs are the bread and butter of BIBA brokers,” said Trudgill. “We’ve seen with the flooding and the riots that they completely rely on their insurance.

“But, in these tough economic times, some have looked to cut back where possible. We want to make sure they understand the difference between ‘need to have’ and ‘nice to have’ insurance. Insurance is incredibly complicated and we want to do our bit to protect them by showing them the vital areas of cover they need, such as business interruption cover and the risk of underinsurance.”

Finally, BIBA is also a great chance for brokers to network and meet the senior executives of leading insurers.

“Bookings are ahead of this time last year, so it promises to be a blockbuster event,” added Trudgill.

There is also a lighter side to BIBA – as witnessed by last year’s collection of superheroes, witches and even delegates dressed in lederhosen who mingled with the insurance industry’s finest at the ExCel convention centre in London. And, like previous years, Zurich’s stand will remain open to all brokers, no matter their attire.

Image © Getty

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