’Whilst technology is an enabler, it will never replace the experience of our people and the importance we place on our trading relationships,’ says head of SME 

After Zurich Online slipped from its first ever five star rating in 2022 to four stars in this year’s  Insurance Times Five Star rating Report: eTrading, the insurer said it was focused on enhancing the trading experience for brokers while investing in underwriters.

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The insurer’s overall position slipped to third in the extranet rankings because of a marginal fall to 3.94 from 4.02 in 2022, but it retained a five star rating for its eTrading via platforms for the second consecutive year.

The insurer’s platforms result saw it overtake Aviva to claim the top spot.

“This was amazing to see [and a] great recognition of the work all of our teams have been delivering over the past few years,” said Edwards.

“We have continued our transformation journey by investing in additional products and functionality.

“We continue to invest in our people, increasing the underwriting team by over 20% whilst investing in 2,400 days of training with our underwriters last year.”

Delivering for brokers

Edwards explained that the insurer was “working hard to get [it’s] top stop back” with new product launches, reviewing the end-to-end journey for their broker partners to improve the experience and investing in hiring more than 30 new underwriters.

He continued: “We have also significantly improved our responsiveness through live chat which is our fastest growing communication channel with brokers.

“Live chat is the contact channel where we are seeing the fastest growth in demand. All of our live chats are handled by one of our experienced underwriters.

“That said, we are there to respond to brokers through live chat, phone or platform referrals [because we] want to be there, to work with our brokers through any medium that they chose.

“All contact channels are handled by our team of SME underwriters.

“We are always looking to improve our speed of response and increasing the size of the team will help.

“We have also invested heavily in our functionality to ensure the broker is getting the best response from the most appropriate underwriter at the right time.

“We continue to review the feedback we get from our brokers via our transactional net promotor surveys (TNPS) to further the experience we offer. For us, that is a vital source of feedback to help us improve.”

Underwriters investment

Meanwhile, Zurich is also “heavily investing” in underwriters as it believes these will continue to “play a key role with brokers”.

Edwards explained that the insurer is making significant investments in the development of its underwriters to enable faster response times across all products, including commercial combined.

He continued: “[We are] investing in more than 30 new underwriters.

“We have invested heavily in training, delivering 9,000 hours in the last quarter alone – all of which sets out to improve our speed of response.

“In addition, we continue to review our appetite with the aim of reducing referrals to support trading and responsiveness. We are focused on ensuring that digitally trading with us is as easy as possible on all of our products and we complete regular reviews of our appetite to support that.

“Additionally, reviewing our appetite is a vital part of supporting ease of trading with us and we will continue to ensure that we only refer risks into our underwriters where necessary as we recognise responsiveness is key for brokers”.

When asked whether the insurance industry’s reputation had changed due to overreliance on technology, Edwards explained that it would always be a “people’s business”.

He explained: “Whilst we have invested in technology over the past few years, we completely agree the insurance industry is a people business. That’s why when you live chat with us, it is always an underwriter at the other end of the chat.

“Whilst technology is an enabler, it will never replace the experience of our people and the importance we place on our trading relationships.”

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