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How Gamified Simulation Training Is Helping Hiscox to Climb the Leaderboard

Gamification is a method of learning or teaching that incorporates gaming elements into the educational process, allowing the learner to approach the training as a game.

Des Bishop, Group People Manager at Hiscox, has been with the firm since 2005 and is a big fan of gamification. Here he explains what happened when they asked gamified simulation training experts Attensi to create the first ever ‘underwriter simulator’.

Des Bishop, Group People Manager at Hiscox

Fighter pilots clock up thousands of hours in simulators before entering a real cockpit. Surgeons are running simulations to train for complex procedures. At Hiscox, we always try to push boundaries, and we were curious to see what would happen if we applied this simulation approach to insurance underwriters.

What we’ve discovered, following our work with gamified simulation training specialists Attensi, could be an absolute game-changer for our industry.

I’m responsible for 3,600 employees working out of 14 countries for clients who span industries such as commercial property, oil & gas, aerospace, and the live events industry. We wanted to apply more immersive learning principles when training our underwriting staff.

Our team is very customer-centric, and it’s the underwriting which drives profit. So, when it comes to skillsets, our business needs an exceptionally talented team of technical underwriters. This means that when a broker or a customer meets with an underwriter, not only can they talk to them about the product, but they can service that product to that broker or client.

Training should always be experience-led, not a dry academic exercise. It needs to be learning that people can do on the job and apply to the real world. That’s been reflected in the work that Hiscox has done historically, with a mix of online learning and live face-to-face training.

There is an appetite here for looking at things differently, but not all companies have that natural curiosity about what else they can do to help their staff grow, learn and develop.

Gamification has always been something Hiscox has aspired to because of a desire to get the younger generations engaged in learning from the get-go. But what got our collaboration with Attensi over the line was actually the Covid-19 Pandemic. When our people moved to working from home, online learning became the norm. It just made sense.

Underwriters are naturally a very cynical bunch. There is a real scepticism in the profession because they are looking at risk on a daily basis. However, in this virtual world, they have had the chance to learn in a safe environment and learn from their mistakes.

The simulated conversations we created require underwriters to clearly articulate their findings and accurately explain technical concepts. All while working towards a strategic objective. After analysing the results, we found that underwrites need multiple attempts to master each conversation and make their new learning stick, building their confidence in the process.

Following an Attensi survey of our people who had used the training, 85% agreed it had helped them understand how to undertake reviews and analysis to identify areas of improvement for account and portfolio analysis. And 85% agreed the training had helped them understand how to apply technical concepts across the underwriting cycle.

One of the key principles our team has followed is that of accelerated learning. This principle has been around for a long time, but it’s only with the move to gamification that we have been able to bring some of this to the fore.

With the virtual world that we’ve built with Attensi, the team are now able to realise that benchmark; a consistent method of training which serves learners exceptionally well. It’s on-the-job training in a safe virtual environment which creates the best learning. Repetition makes good learning stick, and our simulation is designed with this front of mind. Each module can be gone over again and again to get the best possible results and get behaviours to stick.

There are three components to the learning journey:

  1. The portal that hosts all the training modules, so it’s clear for learners how to progress from one step to the next.
  2. The Attensi SKILLS app, a mobile-first training solution that triggers repetition. We’ve seen staff repeating this 5-10 times to ensure they get the highest score and get to the top of the leaderboard.
  3. Digital case studies, created to offer immersive learning and built hand-in-hand with senior underwriters.

By the end of 2021, more than 90% of junior underwriters within the firm globally will have taken the training. With results like these, we’re now having conversations on what else can we do with simulations. Sales development and internal onboarding feel like natural choices, but the possibilities are near-endless.


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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