UK and U.S.-based insurers share many concerns—one of which being agency satisfaction. In the past few years, the UK has experienced a soft market and broader financial crisis, which have resulted in competing demands from various channels and placed a continued pressure on expenses. As a result, many UK insurers have begun to focus more intently on these distribution channel concerns.
Celent questioned 264 UK brokers—veteran insurance professionals in a small to medium-size broker company, generating a significant book of business primarily in personal and small commercial lines from multiple insurers—about what makes them choose to do business with one insurer over another.
Almost 32 different insurers were named as “a favorite insurer,” for many different reasons. The top three insurers receiving “favorite insurer” votes were Fortis, Aviva and LV=. The top reasons for conferring favorite insurer status were good relationship (mentioned in 25% of favorite insurer responses), professionalism (23%) and technology (19%). More specifically, drivers of choice are primarily around efficiency and speed. “Support for upload/download to broker management system” was the number one driver of insurer choice, followed by “issuing policies quickly” and “issuing underwriting decisions quickly.”
Celent found that key tools for the U.K. broker include phone, e-mail and the broker management system. Automation through the broker management system has gone some way to improve efficiencies, but the challenge remains for insurers to reduce the reliance on phone and e-mail while ensuring the broker still has full access to the underwriters.
More than half of the respondents reported using insurer websites for new business several times a day, while a further 30% used these sites once a day or once every few days. Celent suggests insurers that want to increase the use of their broker websites should focus on speed and ease of use, as well as arriving at a quick underwriting decision through this channel.
Celent concludes that the survey results highlight the need to balance technology use, primarily as an efficiency enhancer, against the human side of doing business. Appropriate use of straight-through processing, for example, can deliver a no-touch experience that brokers value. But when a broker needs to discuss a risk, an insurer needs to be the first one available. Consideration must be given to technology’s role in building and extending the broker-underwriter relationship as well.
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