Clyde & Co's Jennette Newman talks to Luke Holloway about London FOIL, future trends and the next generation of sector talent
Jennette Newman has more than 25 years' legal experience in insurance claims and regulation, but as we reach the end of the decade, she reflects on a time of unique challenges, change and opportunities for the sector.
"It is fantastic to be involved in insurance at a time when it is going through such a massive period of change," says Ms Newman. "Seeing how organisations, trade and professional bodies are pulling together to move forward and take the future of insurance to the next level."
Now a partner at law firm Clyde & Co, following a successful career with BLM, Ms Newman has spent the last year as president of the London Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) -- a new division of the wider-reaching FOIL group of specialist expert lawyers, collaborating and seeking solutions to larger thematic issues facing the industry.
Ms Newman says: "I have now been involved in both FOIL groups and have been incredibly impressed by the work they do to support the profession. It is an excellent example of how much we can achieve if we work together."
As inaugural president of London FOIL, Ms Newman's initial focus has been examining the needs of that market. "Our discussions have included new models, new technology, getting to grips with the progression in catastrophic losses and categories of risks potentially becoming uninsurable, all while keeping one eye on a rather volatile political situation."
The desire for new talent and broader skillsets in insurance and insurance law has also been high on the agenda, as well as continuing to be part of the diversity and inclusion discussion.
"I have tried to broaden that conversation to look at talent retention and diversity in its widest context, to support the market and acknowledge the great work done by Dive In, the London Market Group and the CII.
"This is not just because it is the right thing to do -- which I believe it is -- but also because it is very difficult to address our challenges and maintain professional standards without having the best people, the diversity of thought and talent for innovation," adds Ms Newman.
People in our sector are highly skilled, passionate, they want to innovate and embrace change
Ms Newman has always been very aware of the CII as a professional body and has attended numerous training seminars and thought-leadership events over the years.
"More recently, I have been part of the Insurance Institute of London mentoring programme as an advocate mentor. The programme involves supporting people through their CII exams and the talent and drive for success within this contingent of mentees really is inspirational."
This is in addition to her involvement with the CII's Insuring Women's Futures (IWF) initiative on one of the workstreams and also as a member of the expert panel.
"Some amazing work has been done through IWF," says Ms Newman. "I will certainly be attending the Talk 2 10K event in November and Clyde & Co has agreed to run a Talk 2 10K scheme for the entire Clyde & Co staff, clients and guests."
Ms Newman has always worked in a contentious claims environment and, looking to the future, feels there will be a shift in the nature of claims that arise and are disputed.
"We can expect a growing trend in cyber claims and claims related to data hacking will become more numerous and complex.
"As the environmental, social and governance profiles of businesses grow, we are likely to see an increase in directors and officers claims.
"Environmental and product liability claims linked to climate change litigation have not reached their peak by a long way and these could rise considerably," she notes.
With advances in technology, Ms Newman feels there will be more potential for products and new technology to be involved in losses, giving rise to new types of claims and further product recall, an area many businesses are concerned about.
"But it is not all doom and gloom!" says Ms Newman. "In regard to casualties, we are seeing huge advances in technology, medical science and prosthetics, meaning improvements around treating injured claimants.
"In 10 to 20 years' time, automated vehicles should massively reduce the number of road traffic claims. If you drive out risk, you will drive out claims, so there are some significant positives in that regard."
And Ms Newman adds that she has no doubt the insurance profession will rise to the challenges that the future holds. "Throughout my career, the talent I have encountered both in the UK and globally is incredible. People in our sector are highly skilled, passionate, they want to innovate and embrace change, while technology is being adopted quickly and safely. I am very hopeful for the future of insurance and law.
"Insurance is an amazing sector to be involved in. It protects vulnerable people, protects business, manages risk and ensures that our day-to-day lives can continue despite natural disasters occurring or risks that may arise. It is something we should all be very proud of."
Jennette has specialised in complex and multiparty bodily injury litigation for insurers, reinsurers and risk carriers
She has led regulatory prosecutions against local authorities, housing associations, retailers, the care sector and other corporate bodies
Jennette has acted in relation to incidents during the Wembley stadium construction and the Liverpool Docks crane collapse
Luke Holloway is editor of the CII