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The Insurance business and its image in society: traditional issues and new challenges (RV 2005/79/ABCM)

Author: De Bettignies, Henri-Claude ; Lépineux, François ; Tan, Cheon KheongINSEAD Area: Asian Business and Comparative Management Series: Working Paper ; 2006/28/ABCM (revised version 2005/79/ABCM) Publisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD, 2006.Language: EnglishDescription: 70 p.Type of document: INSEAD Working Paper Online Access: Click here Abstract: This paper aims to investigate the image of the insurance industry in society, at a time when it is confronted with new challenges in the context of globalization, such as the fast pace of environmental devastation, the relentless advance of technological progress, which generate an ever-increasing number of implications in terms of risks and uncertainties. At first sight, one could estimate that the insurance sector enjoys a positive reputation in the public opinion, in so far as it significantly contributes to wealth creation, and as the insurance sector brings a number of positive contributions to society, which will be detailed in the first section of the paper. However on closer inspection, it appears that the image of the insurance industry in the public opinion is not so good - in reality, it appears to be blurred, if not squarely bad. A number of reasons, which will be analyzed in the second part of the paper, account for this negative perception: the opacity of the insurance business with its misrepresentation and mis-selling practices, the dissatisfaction about the insurance agents' reward system, the problems associated with the respect of customers' privacy, and the dilemmas related to the consequences of outsourcing decisions, count among the major determinants of the bad image conveyed by the industry. Moreover, its reputation has been further tarnished by corporate scandals. In its third part, the paper will then focus on the case of one British insurance company, Aviva, and suggest recommendations to improve its public image. Although much has already been accomplished to restore its reputation through the advances described in its CSR Report, a number of ways can still be explored to make further progress. Previous title: Insurance business and its image in society: traditional issues and new challenges - De Bettignies, Henri-Claude;Lépineux, Fr - 2005 - INSEAD Working Paper
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This paper aims to investigate the image of the insurance industry in society, at a time when it is confronted with new challenges in the context of globalization, such as the fast pace of environmental devastation, the relentless advance of technological progress, which generate an ever-increasing number of implications in terms of risks and uncertainties. At first sight, one could estimate that the insurance sector enjoys a positive reputation in the public opinion, in so far as it significantly contributes to wealth creation, and as the insurance sector brings a number of positive contributions to society, which will be detailed in the first section of the paper. However on closer inspection, it appears that the image of the insurance industry in the public opinion is not so good - in reality, it appears to be blurred, if not squarely bad. A number of reasons, which will be analyzed in the second part of the paper, account for this negative perception: the opacity of the insurance business with its misrepresentation and mis-selling practices, the dissatisfaction about the insurance agents' reward system, the problems associated with the respect of customers' privacy, and the dilemmas related to the consequences of outsourcing decisions, count among the major determinants of the bad image conveyed by the industry. Moreover, its reputation has been further tarnished by corporate scandals. In its third part, the paper will then focus on the case of one British insurance company, Aviva, and suggest recommendations to improve its public image. Although much has already been accomplished to restore its reputation through the advances described in its CSR Report, a number of ways can still be explored to make further progress.

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