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PwC and Insurance Ireland Leaders' Survey 2021 reveals industry plans to invest in jobs and growth

08 September, 2021

PwC and Insurance Ireland today launch their Insurance Leaders' Survey 2021 highlighting the views and priorities of Irish insurance leaders across all major classes of insurance. With 94 responding Irish insurance leaders, the report benchmarks key trends, challenges and opportunities in the industry as the economy cautiously reopens following more than a year of the greatest disruption in our generation.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Confidence rebounds with significant plans to invest post the pandemic: 85% of Irish insurers are confident about business growth, up from 71% last year; 55% will invest significantly in digital transformation
  • Headcount is on the increase, as significant changes to workforce strategies are expected: 54% of insurers plan to increase headcount while 69% said that the majority of their workforce will work remotely at least two to three days per week post COVID-19
  • Customers want more from insurance companies and intermediaries. Over two thirds (69%) feel that the insurance industry should do more to respond to changing consumer purchasing habits and means of engagement. The industry is planning to meet this challenge by investing significantly in digital
  • There are climate change goals, but more action is needed. 77% said that sustainability is high or moderately high on the strategic planning list, with 30% planning to invest significantly

Minister for Finance for Ireland Paschal Donohoe said: "A stable, well-functioning and competitive insurance industry is key for Ireland as we continue on our road to recovery from COVID-19 pandemic. The sector is an important element in maintaining the momentum of the recovery and in turn helping restoring sustainability to Irish public finances. The PwC-Insurance Ireland Leaders' Survey 2021 illustrates that the economy is rebounding and that the sector is facing up to changes in its operating environment. Meeting these challenges shows the need for the industry to work collaboratively with the Government to progress the reform agenda and bring benefits to consumers, businesses and providers alike".

A photo of a a man wearing glasses sitting on a grey sofa and using his laptop.

Confidence rebounds with significant plans to invest in priority areas

The survey reveals an insurance industry that is rebounding with certainty and resilience, but not without its challenges. Poor investment performance (65%) due to low or negative interest rates and regulatory challenges (59%) continue to be key macro-risks. Other key business challenges include the availability of key talent and skills (45%, up from 24% last year), digital transformation (45%) and adjusting to the new ways of working (43%). Cyberthreats have escalated (45%, up from 15% last year).

The industry is planning to tackle many of these issues head on with significant investment step-ups. Key areas for significant investment over the next three years are digital transformation (55%), cybersecurity (32%) and sustainability (30%). In addition, as the industry adjusts to the new ways of working, significant changes to workforce strategies are on the agenda including hybrid working, diversity and inclusion, talent and leadership and productivity through automation.

More to do to seize opportunities from technology

Greater leveraging of technologies is an area of real opportunity for the insurance industry. Greater use of data analytics to add value and using robotics or robo advice and chatbots to deliver tailored, on-demand insurance and address changing consumer habits. Over two thirds (69%) of respondents are of the view that the Irish insurance industry has not responded sufficiently to changing consumer purchasing habits and means of engagement, such as across digital and mobile platforms.

John O'Leary, Insurance Leader at PwC Ireland said: "With plans for the lifting of many of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the next two months, we expect to see an insurance sector adapting to a new working environment. As an industry, remaining competitive is critical. The survey highlights significant investment in digital transformation and workforce strategies that will bring efficiencies in a world where consumer purchasing habits are rapidly changing. Greater leveraging of technologies is an area of real opportunity for the insurance industry and, with significant investment in digital transformation underway, it looks like this will become a reality".

Addressing the sustainability agenda

The transition towards a more sustainable economy and society is identified as a top priority to address the challenges facing current and future generations. Over three quarters (77%) said that sustainability is high or moderately high on their strategic planning list.

30% of respondents stated that their organisation is planning to invest significantly in sustainability and ESG initiatives over the next three years. One in five (21%) have issued a product specifically targeting the ESG aware consumer already, with a further 36% currently in the process of issuing one. While sustainability is already high on the strategic agenda, more concrete action is needed to translate this into product development, investment strategy/opportunities and to fully leverage the socio-economic role of the industry.

Competitiveness the top Government priority

Competitiveness and the attractiveness of Ireland as a place to do business (51%) remains central for the industry and should be the number one government priority, according to the survey. Continuing to address the domestic challenges i.e., the cost of claims (34%) and improving Ireland's national and cybersecurity infrastructure (30%) are also top Government priorities. 36% of Ireland's insurance leaders are urging the Government to prioritise the competitiveness of Ireland's corporate tax regime as international pressure mounts on our 12.5% corporate tax rate (up from 9% two years ago).

Moyagh Murdock, CEO of Insurance Ireland concluded: "The survey confirms that Ireland's insurance industry is committed to a strong recovery and growth agenda. The industry is also committed to investing in jobs and digital technologies. There is also a strong emphasis and commitment in relation to climate action and the development of more sustainable ways of conducting business on behalf of our customers. Having adapted well to the COVID-19 disruption, the industry is confident about the future. Nonetheless, we are dependent on a regulatory environment which facilitates competition in the Irish market, as well as Ireland's competitiveness at European and global level".

Note to editors

About the survey

The survey was undertaken in July-August 2021 having 94 participants amongst Ireland's leading insurers representing international as well as local insurance companies and all classes of insurance. The sample included 40% international only players, 32% domestic only players and 28% international and domestic players.


About PwC

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Contact us

John O'Leary

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 8659

Johanna Dehaene

Corporate Communications, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6547

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