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GDPR - and the importance of insurance customer trust.


GDPR implementation is now weeks away.

The impact that GDPR will have on the insurance industry has been well documented. Indeed, I’ve previously commented on it here.

Some of the concerns that have been voiced look well founded; for example, a stampede of consumers flexing their muscles on data privacy. Recent research suggests that two in five UK customers plan to take advantage of their data privacy rights within six months of GDPR Day on May 25th. Financial services – including insurance – top the list as the sector consumers are most likely to target.

Nonetheless, I think high levels of consumer interest could be a positive for the industry. Insurance is hardly full of meaningful feedback loops, and consumer concerns about data use provide an opportunity for insurers to create more touchpoints with their customers.

Some insurers are already taking a lead. For example, Beazley has recently launched a specialist GDPR helpline to support their policyholders with specialist advice. The insurer hopes this will assist customers in deciding how best to apply their internal resources and their compliance focus. Born out of a recognition that there was still a lot of confusion as to the requirements and likely effect of GDPR, the helpline is a proactive step that positively engages Beazley’s customers and adds value.

Behind the headline grabbing fines that may be imposed for GDPR non-compliance, are potential challenges to current and future business models. Customer data has become one of the, if not the, most valuable assets a business can hold, so giving customers assurances you are trustworthy enough to hold this data is critical. This is especially true for insurers who apply AI based machine learning techniques to risk analysis and underwriting processes. To be most effective these techniques work best using vast databases, and if large swathes of data are removed this could have significant negative impact.

GDPR is galvanising insurers to reinvigorate how they engage with their customers and partners. Beazley is already a good example. AXA, who took a lead in announcing their intention to implement the legislation with the creation of a dedicated project team, is another. So too, is  NFU Mutual, who have been advising business customers on the insurance cover they need against breaches. Yes, there remains confusion about the interpretation and impact of GDPR, but those insurers who have robust procedures in place, and communicate clearly that they are compliant, will be best placed to deserve customer trust on 25th May and beyond.

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