Simplification, consistency and delivering on promises must become a priority if insurers are to improve service levels for brokers, writes editor Katie Scott

Brokers continue to hound insurers about subpar service levels if the chatter at this month’s Accelerate conference (2 March 2023) – hosted by The Ardonagh Group’s Bravo Networks – is anything to go by.

The “root” of struggling service levels appears to be post-pandemic hybrid and remote working models, commented Nick Hobbs, chief distribution and regions officer at Allianz Insurance, who was speaking during an insurer focused panel at the event.

Katie Scott_bw_path

Katie Scott

Fellow panellist Jaime Swindle, chief executive of The Ardonagh Group’s MGA business – Geo Underwriting – concurred with Hobbs, adding: “The whole profession has changed in terms of its working habits.

“That’s a good thing because it’s attracting people, it’s making much better delivery propositions – but I’m not entirely sure everybody is quite in tune yet and there’s maybe a little bit more than we need to do to bring that to life.”

Swindle believes there is still an “expectation piece” between brokers and insurers that needs addressing, where the definition of “good” service is clearly outlined.

For her, good service can be summarised by “simplification, consistency” and “continuing to do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it”.

She continued: “There’s a bit for me which says how do you simplify trading without dumbing it down, how do you set some really clear expectations that people can buy in to – so [create] service levels that work – how do you focus on getting the basics right and then take it from there.”

Hobbs agreed that insurers could look to simplify their businesses and better broadcast contact details to mitigate service issues, as well as “invest in the things that make the greatest difference to brokers facing off against customers”.

However, Hobbs does feel that there is a divergence between the results of different industry-wide broker service surveys, which he doesn’t “fully understand”.

“Clearly, there is a service disconnect between what we’re providing and what people are experiencing,” he noted.

Hobbs added that verbatim comments in surveys were much more useful than just receiving a score, while Swindle feels it is important to “more frequently” get feedback from brokers “rather than waiting for annual surveys”.

With the full results of Insurance Times’ own Five Star Rating Report for personal and commercial lines available this month, we’ll be able to compare year-on-year data to see firsthand whether brokers are now experiencing improved service from insurers.

Although front end digital transformation has become more commonplace across the industry, broker feedback does indicate that insurers’ back offices still need sprucing up if their service is to reach optimal levels.

With brokers’ service complaints ongoing for multiple years now, surely insurers are embarrassed that they haven’t hit the nail on the head yet?