Although new UKGI boss didn’t expect to move away from his Canadian business leadership, he swiftly recognised the ‘really big opportunities’ present in the UK market

General insurance brokers in the UK should expect Aviva “to do more” for them because they represent “a fundamentally important part of our business” and “a massive part of our distribution mix”, according to Jason Storah, chief executive of UK general insurance (UKGI) at Aviva.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times following the publication of the insurer’s 2023 full-year financial results on 7 March 2024, Storah confirmed that there is “a lot more to come in the broker space” from Aviva.

He explained: “[Brokers] should expect us to do more in terms of aligning and improving our proof points with them and with their customers.

“We’re going to keep investing in the digitisation of the broker channel – whether that’s claims interaction like the claims portal or the commercial lines, the personal lines propositions – so there’s just a lot more to come for us in the broker space.

“We do enjoy a really fortunate position with our brokers and we just want to keep earning that right to stay there with them every day.”

Coming down the line in 2024

For 2024, brokers can expect Storah to “continue to build resilience in this business” and focus on delivering Aviva’s financial targets – this includes an updated group-wide target of achieving a £2bn operating profit by 2026.

Storah explained: “The ability to deliver our results and feel that we’re building that resilience so that if there are bad storms that go beyond our long-term averages, that’s ok because we’ve got the resilience to absorb them, or if we see parts of the commercial market or the personal lines market where, for whatever reason, there’s a bit more of an uptick in rate reductions, we know we’re ahead of rating, we’re ahead of inflation trends.”

Improving customer experience – in terms of end consumers and brokers – is another key area of concentration for Aviva in 2024.

Storah continued: “This year, we are investing already in improvements and customer experience.

“We’ve started the journey [last year] in terms of aligning our broker-facing structures to our brokers and they’re going to continue to see more people in [the] regions to interact with them.

“We’ve been going through a claims transformation journey [too]. It’s been very focused on motor. It’s now shifted to home and commercial – our brokers and our customers are going to see the impact of that claims transformation this year.”

Aviva’s claims portal for brokers, which launched in April 2019, is one example of its claims transformation work. This portal handled 120,000 claims in 2023.

“We have a lot of people that are focused on our customers and they do brilliant work every day, whether that’s on the claims side or new business or renewal or endorsement,” Storah said.

“Continuing to make improvements in our customer experience is a bit like painting a bridge – you get to the end of the bridge and you go back and you start again.

“Building that trajectory out even further around the kinds of improvements that our customers and brokers can expect is definitely an area of focus as well.”

In addition, Storah wants to see Aviva “outperform against the insurance cycle”.

He explained: “There’s a lot of speculation around what [is] happening to rates and personal motor and what is going to happen to commercial rates over the course of the cycle given the rate hardening that we’ve seen over the last few years.

“What I want to make sure that we do is outperform against the insurance cycle because that’s what great companies do.”

Having an impact

Although Storah is the new face of UKGI after his appointment in August 2023, he has been an Aviva stalwart for nearly 20 years over in the insurer’s Canadian business. In fact, he was this geography’s chief executive for more than four years from June 2019.

So, why did Storah decide to come home to the UK after building his expertise in Canada?

“The very, very candid answer is I never actually expected to come back to the UKGI market,” Storah confided. “I’ve been in Canada for a long time and there’s lots of strength and bench strength here in the UK and obviously in Aviva UK.

“Why did I take the role? First of all, Amanda [Blanc, group chief executive at Aviva] asked me – I’ve a huge amount of respect for Amanda. And it just felt like a great opportunity.

“I love the Canadian business, it’s a great business. [But] I think that when you look at how investors and shareholders look at the Aviva group story, the UK and Ireland GI business [is] a bit more proximate in their minds.

“[The UKGI division has the] ability to drive the results of [the group] business and help with where the share price is going to go in the future, where we believe the share price should go, what we believe the value proposition of the group is and how the GI business fits in the overall group story.

“It just felt like there’s some really big opportunities here, [UKGI is a] really important part of the group story and [has an impact on] the share price trajectory. And I think I’ve got some things to add to the team.”