Returning personal lines boss says business restructure will place decision making power where it is needed

AXA personal lines intermediary managing director Laurent Matras said his ‘common sense’ approach to writing business will help empower his staff and improve the business relationship with brokers.

Matras, who recently returned to AXA following a spell with Groupama, has restructured the personal lines intermediary division by appointing development underwriters to write business on visits to brokers’ offices.

“It’s a model I know from experience works well,” he said. “Instead of talking to an account manager who refers it to the underwriter for decisions on a deal, brokers get direct access to decision makers.”

And AXA will be hoping that this restructuring will help turn around the fortunes of the insurer after a tough first quarter.

Non-motor personal lines revenue, including direct businesses AXA Direct and Swiftcover, fell 6% to £280m over the first three months of 2014, cancelling out improvements in the insurer’s commercial books.

The rise of technology

And Matras is looking to technology to help improve the business.

Matras said that with the increasing technical capabilities of brokers, who are now hiring more actuaries and underwriters, having experienced underwriters managing the relationship can help ease discussions.

“Brokers are trying to beef up their technical skills and teams and they want the teams to talk peer-to-peer so they talk the same language,” he said. “Personal lines is becoming more technical each day so you need to have the right people.”

And this rise in technology is something Matras believes will help improve the struggling motor insurance market.

“For 15 years I have been saying telematics is coming tomorrow and I’m still saying it now,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet but I have to be right one day.

“[The problem is] no one has cracked a telematics customer proposition that is right for the market.”

But Matras believes over the longer-term, partnerships between insurers and motor manufacturers could be the key to taking telematics into the mass market.

He will hope this will spur on AXA’s personal motor business, as revenues stalled at £119m for Q1 2014, including the direct business, at a time of intense competition in the marketplace.