Brexit, 5 years on:
a professional and 
personal journey   

24 June 2021

As someone from Ireland, I had long been keen observer of Brexit’s passage, but it came even more sharply into focus when I moved to the UK in March 2020, during possibly one of the most turbulent times in modern UK history. Family and friends alike were concerned with my decision to relocate in a perfect ‘Covid-Brexit’ storm.  My role as Head of Sales for the UK and Northern Europe for International Health at Allianz Partners requires a strong command of domestic market forces, so moving to the UK made sense. Of course, the past year has not allowed me to ‘meet’ many colleagues, brokers, or clients – but I think we are all looking ahead to a time where that is a more realistic option. 

We work with a lot of brokers and other partners across the world to deliver a global service to our customers. At Allianz Partners, we made the decision back in 2016 to set up a dedicated taskforce to prepare for a worst-case scenario, a no-deal Brexit, ensuring the service could continue in all markets regardless of the outcome. Fortunately, many of our global brokers and partners undertook similar measures to mitigate the impact of Brexit, which has enabled a seamless transition for us and our customers.

However, this is not the case for a significant number of brokers based in the UK. Many of these brokers work entirely from the UK, and Brexit has caused them significant upheaval due in part to the fact that they worked off the Freedom of Services Act, which has since been removed. Most of these brokers are part of wider, global broker networks, which they would have previously used when dealing with clients who have a global presence outside of the EU. Now, however, they must tap into these networks for EU-based clients, making their workload more complex and adding a layer of bureaucracy. It’s our responsibility to look at ways of supporting and helping our brokers and partners as much as possible, and now we are trying to find ways to help them navigate Brexit.

Some forms of insurance – such as travel and motor – have been impacted hugely by Covid-19, but international private medical insurance (iPMI) has remained strong. Despite travel restrictions, many of our customers still require employees to stay abroad or relocate for work. Brexit poses increased uncertainty for many looking to relocate within Europe from the UK, or vice versa. This uncertainty is likely to result in an increased need for iPMI, as expats seek peace of mind, regardless of their location. 

While we were well-prepared for Brexit, our learnings from the pandemic have made our practices even more robust. The last 12 months have shown us the need for agility in the face of unexpected change, and that extends beyond one’s internal ways of working. Our business operates at a global level, so various issues arise at different times in every region, and the last year has further emphasized the need to stay connected.

We can now see that the issues of displacement and uncertainty that arose as a direct result Covid-19 are starting to reduce, as many populations await vaccination. We have also identified issues faced by some of our brokers and other partners since the Brexit deal came into force and are working alongside them. These have been difficult times, but it is indeed true that sometimes those that challenge us most teach us best, and I look ahead to the next five years optimistically.

About the author

Paddy Lawlor,
Head of Sales & Distribution - UK & Northern Europe at
Allianz Partners