This year has certainly been a year of change for the insurance industry, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the impending Brexit deadline and regulatory intervention. But how are independent brokers tweaking their service propositions in order to survive and stand out as we enter 2021? Insurance Times asks industry leaders to find out…

WE ASKED: “What changes are independent brokers planning to make to their services in 2021?”

Carl Shuker, group chief executive, A-Plan

Carl Shuker cropped

Carl Shuker

”2021 will bring change, challenge and opportunity to the industry.

”As for changes to services, we will keep reflecting on what clients want and keep evolving and refining our offering based on the feedback that we regularly seek.

”In personal lines, it is about making it personal and keeping it feeling personal. There is a difference between the two.

”A big data objective is a highly tailored offering, but how you make a client feel is down to the people representing your business. Insurance at inception is, by many, considered transactional – at the point of a query and especially at the point of claim, it is very personal.

“We will be thinking about how we further leverage the huge investment we have made in digital and data, particularly around how data and digital can be used to improve the client experience; strengthening the experience by evolving our offering.

”Our acquisition programme will continue apace; there are still many brokers out there thinking about exit, especially in this tougher regulatory environment, and our branch-based network offers a great exit route for those brokers who want to see their clients looked after well and locally.

”Finally, we will continue to refine how we communicate our value add. With the FCA focus on pricing, service and value will come to the fore - attributes that we are well placed to demonstrate.”

Julian Edwards Crop

Julian Edwards

Julian Edwards, chief executive, MCE Insurance

”The coming year is a big one for MCE. It’s when we finally make the switch from a call centre model to one that puts the customer in control, offering complete self-service insurance.

”The products we sell may be commoditised, but we can still add value through our delivery of them.

“That means providing insurance on a self-service, 24/7 basis.

“By the end of 2021, all our customers will be able to search, apply and pay for their policy; cancel, amend or renew it; and register, track and manage their claim entirely within the MCE app, whenever suits them.

”Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are automating all the policy validation and customer checks necessary to deliver straight through processing of first party claims, reducing the claims lifecycle to just 24 days.

“Delivering friction-free insurance is where our value will lie.

“And, we’ll keep looking for new ways to provide services that put protection in our customers’ hands, like the new on-demand insurance we will introduce in the not-to-distant future.

”By the end of 2021, we will have created a new model – friction-free insurance that puts control of the entire process in the customer’s hands.”

Simon Mabb, managing director, Romero Insurance Brokers

Simon Mabb Romero

Simon Mabb

”We’ve long believed in dedicating all our efforts and resources to maximising customer service levels. This will continue to underpin everything we do in 2021 and will inform the evolution of how we work. But there are two areas which really underpin how we make this happen.

”Firstly is our claims service. We all know this is the true test of any good broker and, while other brokers are taking the decision to outsource, we’re investing in resource. Freshly bedded in for 2021, we have implemented a 25-strong full service claims department.

”This focus on keeping technical claims handling, risk management and loss adjusting in house means we’re able to quickly respond to client needs when things go wrong, as well as developing our own technology to streamline the process for ourselves and our clients.

”Secondly is our dedication to the future. People are at the heart of our industry, so it’s important to us to invest in them.

”We have just launched the Romero Academy, giving us the expertise to upskill and develop our teams. This includes Chartered Insurance Institute training programmes for existing staff, two-year graduate training programmes, plus the mentorship and training of apprentices from an experienced and growing senior leadership team.

”We’re taking it upon ourselves to grow and nurture the insurance broking experts of tomorrow, inspiring a new generation of proud independent brokers.”