Does the insurance industry keep up-to-speed with the pace of consumer technology or is it inevitably always playing catch-up?

I saw this picture, poking fun at the new iPhone 7’s wireless headphones. After I had stopped smiling and wondering where I could share it – here it seems – it made me think about how quickly the warranty market has to adapt to change.

In the world of technology, the headlong charge to market has even caught out a leading brand like Samsung with exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7. The subsequent product recall was inevitable and production ceased altogether shortly afterwards.

However, despite high-profile setbacks, there is no sign of a slowdown. In fact, the evidence shows that the opposite is true. A recent report by Zurich suggests that we will each own seven connected devices by 2020. This internet of things (IoT) raises the question: “Will warranty products be increasingly interconnected or, at the very least, more sophisticated?”

“Will warranty products be increasingly interconnected or, at the very least, more sophisticated?”

From our perspective, each update needs to be assessed and underwritten. This is undoubtedly both complex and sophisticated. OK, so that iPhone 7 doesn’t have a toothbrush attachment, but neither does it have a headphone socket. Also, whilst the latest Samsung phones might be prone to self-immolation, there is no longer a need to worry about dropping them in a sink of water. A myriad of adaptations to add to the underwriting criteria means that we have to understand our clients’ needs and provide warranty products that are fit for purpose.

Bundling of different risks has long been a feature of the warranty industry where manufacturer and extended warranties are often provided to end consumers with other related covers. With multiple internet connected devices already a part of everyday life for many people and bundled accidental damage, theft and mechanical breakdown covers already widely available for smartphones, iPads, laptops, smart TVs, Kindles and other gadgets, increased interconnectivity of warranty covers is already a feature of the modern marketplace. And this is expected to accelerate in coming years.

How do we handle all this change?

At White Oak, we believe that a close relationship with all stakeholders – be that broker, local representatives, TPAs or the end client – is crucial. Building a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding means that we can adapt quickly to changes in products and markets.

Regular communications and transparency are the foundations of all underwriting at White Oak, and insights gleaned from one product line or market are quickly incorporated into the improvement of existing programmes and the development of new programmes across all product lines and territories.

To do this, it is not enough to sit in London and underwrite a risk, from say central or eastern Europe remotely. We think that it is essential to go out there, talk to, and above all, hear what the local needs are. This goes for all warranty products, from consumer electronics through to white goods and auto warranty. Yes, we certainly have to adapt in a fast-changing warranty world, but we must never lose sight of, or forget to listen to what our clients are saying.

Sponsor Justin:

In September 2017, Justin Naughton will be cycling 500km from London to Paris in aid of the Little Princess Trust who support children with cancer. Find out more and sponsor Justin here.


Written by Justin Naughton, Senior Underwriter