’We have, 100%, all real people behind our online platforms,’ says head of broker proposition and distribution 

Most will know the “computer says no” saying as a popular catchphrase from TV comedy Little Britain – but when it comes to insurance, it is a line brokers are using to describe their experiences with online trading.

This is according to Georgina Davis, head of broker proposition and distribution at Zurich UK, who tells Insurance Times that not getting to speak to an underwriter and ending up with a “robot” when eTrading are among brokers’ fears.

Digital trading has become more widely used since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, with insurers investing in claims portal technologies to reduce the cost of handling standard business and free up underwriters’ time.

In its 2024 manifesto, published in January 2024, broking trade body Biba said that achieving a “sweet spot” between technology and people is key to enhancing service, with brokers wanting people available in insurers’ operations to help when there is a referral or clarification required.

“There can be a perception with online trading that you’re potentially going to be stuck talking to a robot, or you might not have the opportunity to speak to an underwriter,” Davis says.

“The thing we have heard quite a bit is ‘computer says no’.”

Human contact

For Zurich UK, however, brokers have spoken fondly of the insurer when it comes to eTrading.

According to Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: eTrading 2024, published on 14 May 2024, brokers trading via insurer extranets gave Zurich Online a maximum overall five star rating.

And when it came to trading with an insurer via a software house platform, Zurich UK again managed to score an overall five star rating.

Davis says her firm is currently focused on highlighting to brokers how they can grow through online trading and stresses that all platforms the insurer use have a human on the other end.

“We have, 100%, all real people behind our online platforms,” she says.

“We are here to talk to you – give us a call and we are there.

“We are also outbounding to brokers as well – so, if a risk comes through, we are ready to trade it and we give the broker a call and say ‘what can we do to convert this with you’.”

Club Blue

The use of human contact forms a key pillar of Zurich Club Blue, which is a proposition that aims to enhance trading relationships with independent regional brokers.

Launched in May 2023, the proposition provides support to brokers across three areas, including futureproofing, professional development and ease of trading.

Speaking to Insurance Times last year following the launch, Davis said that creating a “real partnership is paramount to a successful and collaborative relationship”.

One year on, Davis now says that brokers are “impressed with the fact that they have now got different connections within the wider Zurich team”.

She continues: “In the first year, it was about showing that we are here for our brokers.

“Now, it is about truly connecting Zurich with our brokers locally.

“We have introduced regional trading forums where, on a quarterly basis, we are going to be inviting brokers into our offices to meet local teams and talk about ways that we can improve trading.

“We also did a ‘what’s stopping you from eTrading’ [programme] for our Club Blue partners and then later [this] year, we are going to be doing things around regional trading and how to build relationships with underwriters.

“At the heart of our industry is relationships and brokers need to have that with our Zurich team across the board.”