Aviva’s Fast Trade platform celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year, but Gareth Hemming says it is still building for the future
Etrading is becoming an increasingly important tool for brokers as they look to reduce the amount of time they spend collecting and entering data and drive down costs.
Over the last four or five years, the UK general insurance market has seen an explosion in the number of broker extranet sites, particularly for SME business, and Aviva’s Gareth Hemming, former director of SME commercial and now managing director of Aviva’s personal lines business, says this has created a number of opportunities, and difficulties, for brokers.
“This growth in the number of extranet sites means there are more options for brokers in terms of digital trading, but also frustrations around the level of double keying they still have to do,” he says. “The positive developments have certainly been around insurers delivering more good quality products digitally, but the next stage has to be making that more effortless from a broker’s point of view without having to double key information.”
And Hemming says that for these improvements to be made, the industry as a whole needs to sit down and have some meaningful conversations.
“There is a need for the industry to sit down and talk about how to make etrading as efficient a process as possible and reduce the costs for everyone involved in the system,” he says. “Any excess costs that are in the system ultimately end up being paid by the customer, and we know that what we need to do as an industry is to look at how we can distribute the products with brokers in a much more efficient way.
“That is only going to be answered by looking at the costs in the whole value chain, rather than looking at the individual costs we face as an insurer, a broker or a software house.”
No quick fix
But sadly, there is no quick fix for the industry.
“There aren’t any silver bullets for a successful etrading platform, it is all about getting the basics right, with a focus on the quality of products available, the speed of response, continual improvement of the journey and delivering products that the broker is confident in,” Hemming says. “If you can do that and do it consistently, then brokers will have that confidence and will continue to use you to place their business.”
And Hemming says that, regardless of a broker’s business model, etrading can open up a wealth of new revenue opportunities.
“Every broker faces a choice around what proposition they are giving to customers,” he says. “Is their service about advice and helping their customers run their business better, or is it simply about finding the cheapest price? Either of those propositions is fine, they just need to be really clear about what they are aiming for.
“The whole point about etrading is that it is a lot quicker, and with the time that they save, brokers can put that to good use by either spending more time with their customers to understand their business and advise them on the risks they are facing, or generating more customers and more business.”
For its own part, Aviva has seen impressive growth in the use of its Fast Trade platform, which came out top of the 2019 Insurance Times E-trading Report as one of only two Five Star-rated insurers, and it also celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year.
Gross written premium for Aviva’s etraded business has grown by an impressive 29% over the last 12 months, while in force policies have grown by 17%, and the insurer’s Fast Trade platform – which was recently refresh with a new-look and enhanced customer-journey - is being accessed more than 4,200 times every day.
This means that more than half of all Aviva’s SME policies are traded digitally, accounting for one fifth of its overall SME book of business.
And the insurer has put a lot of focus on its etrading propositions, with a particular emphasis on launching new digitally traded products after listening to what its brokers are asking for.
“We have invested a lot in improving our core products and extending our product reach, and that is where we have been seeing most of our growth,” says Aviva head of commercial digital trading and automation Maria Crockart. “Looking at the demand from customers, analysing those needs and then launching products in a way that meets that demand has been key to that success.
“It is all about looking at the requests that have been coming through our digital platforms and assessing where they might be pain points for brokers, and then adjusting products in a way that enables them to be sold end-to-end.”
And Hemming says that keeping the broker at the heart of the insurer’s etrading platform has been key to its success.
“SME businesses, particularly the smaller ones, are generally short on time, and the whole point of digital and etrading in the SME space is that it is enabling brokers to deliver choices and options to the customer really quickly,” he says. “This means that the conversations can then focus on giving advice to the customer, whether that be finding a cheaper price for the policy or getting the customer to think about other risks they are also facing.
“The process of insurance can be quite complex and lengthy, and using etrading to speed up that process is really important for brokers, because it allows them to then focus more time on actually engaging with the customer.”
Ultimately, Hemming says it is all about making customers feel confident about the process.
“We want to ensure that when one of our brokers goes onto Fast Trade, they can be confident that they will get an answer, they will get it quickly and that they will get a good quote and a good quality of cover from a good insurer,” he says. “It has to be something that the broker feels confident in using, and that is why our team is focused on easing those pain points and making it a more efficient process.”
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