Aviva’s Fast Trade picked up Five Stars in the Insurance Times 2019 eTrading Survey, but that does not mean the insurer is resting on its laurels

Aviva Gareth Hemmings

’Stick to the basics’, says Aviva’s Gareth Hemming

Aviva topped the charts with a Five Star performance in the 2019 eTrading Survey, but it has been a long hard slog for the insurer to get its Fast Trade platform to where it is today.

Back in 2016, Fast Trade came in at a lowly seventh place, but since then it has climbed the rankings, reaching fifth in 2017 and fourth in 2018 before clinching the top spot in the latest eTrading Survey from Insurance Times.

Aviva head of trading Gareth Hemming says this success has come from the insurer focusing on the simple things, but doing them right.

“Our strategy for Fast Trade is really quite simple,” he said. “It is about putting decent products together that are easy to access from an underwriting point-of-view. That involves making the broker journey as simple and as straightforward as possible, and backing that up with highly empowered and highly skilled underwriters operating in the background, either by phone, live chat or even email.

“We recognise that cases or customers that do fall out of Fast Trade usually have a slightly complex theme, so you definitely need decent underwriting capabilities running in the background.”

But despite being aware of the importance of having a competent and skilled underwriting team working behind the Fast Trade platform, that does not mean Hemming isn’t focussing on making the system as efficient and automated as possible to improve the broker journey and avoid the need for referrals.

Broker journey

“We have focused on the demand that we get, and ensure that we can automate as much of the process as possible so they get less referrals,” he said. “I think we are known as a business that is good at trying to simplify the underwriting process for both customers and brokers by using external data to reduce the amount of factual information that we need to ask for, and focus on the things that the broker or the customer has some insight in that adds value.”

In the event that a referral is needed, however, Hemming says it is the basics once again that matter most.

“When I say it is important to look at the basics, that referral process is most certainly one of those areas – it is critical,” he said. “The first thing we do is analyse the kind of things that are coming up for referral, and where we can we take them out of the referral process by updating the products or question set.

“The second part is about when you do have a referral, making sure you have the right skill set within your people to deal with it and the mechanism to ensure that demand gets met very carefully.”

To help this process, Aviva has one team handling all referral cases, and monitors timescales to ensure decisions are being made quickly.

“It is about not over-complicating things and sticking to the basics of what makes a difference to brokers in being able to get a decision quickly,” Hemming adds. “That means our brokers can be confident that if they do put a customer through Fast Trade, Aviva will find an answer.”


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 Aside from the Fast Trade platform, Aviva also offers its products via external software houses, a service for which it picked up a Four Star rating in the 2019 survey.

Hemming said that the targets remain the same, but the way Aviva can operate in the software house arena is more challenging for the insurer as it is given less room for innovation.

“The same principles apply to the software houses as they do to Fast Trade, about trying to give decent products with a decent service, and that service is all about decision-making,” he said. “I would rather not have a differential [between the scores], but I can understand why there is one, because it is easier for us to innovate and improve the underwriting journey in Fast Trade than it is in the environment within the software houses.”

To that end, Hemming said Aviva will focus on releasing new e-traded products on Fast Trade, rather than through software houses.

“We don’t have any plans to extend the range of products available through software houses at the moment, but we are expanding the range available through Fast Trade quite significantly,” he said. “We are extending it to do more of the business vehicle products, including special types through to two or three car policies.

“What I am really focusing on is how we can make available more of the Fast Trade product range to brokers with less operational impact on them.”