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Simplify & innovate: Suncorp outlines future for products

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Suncorp CEO Steve Johnston says the insurer will need to consider the impact of COVID-19 on household budgets and customer requirements as it also looks to simplify its product range and drive innovation around personalised cover.

“Personal risk appetites will change. People will need to rebuild their futures and I think both banking and insurance products play a key part of that,” he told an online Synergy seminar today.

“Household budgets are going to be under pressure, so products need to evolve, and we need to find pathways to do things differently to the way they were done when we went into COVID.”

Mr Johnston, who highlighted the pace of digital change and the need to respond, says the group’s continuum of product activities is focusing on simplification, evolution and innovation.

Opportunities for simplification are reflected in the direct consumer area, where the top 20 products contribute around 95% of the book’s gross written premium while the bottom “45 or so” account for the remaining 5%, he told the seminar.

“They add a lot of complexity to our regulatory programs and to our system maintenance costs,” he said. “I think there is a great opportunity for us, and there is an opportunity for all long-dated insurance companies to simplify their product offering.”

Mr Johnston says the increased availability of data, held by companies and also consumers, will increase demand for more personalised products that reflect individual driving and household risks.

“Over a three to five year window product innovation will be very much embedded in this concept of personalisation and we have been talking about it for a while at Suncorp,” he said.

“We have got to be able to think about how we design products for individuals, not pools of individuals and price them accordingly.”

Mr Johnston says the Federal Budget will provide a key signpost for next year’s economic outlook, with February-June shaping as a critical period.

Fiscal stimulus programs should include resilience and mitigation investments, as the country remains underprepared despite the experiences of last summer, he says.

“I am not convinced in my mind that we are any better placed coming into this summer than we were last year,” he said.