Industry experts run the rule over personal lines broking

Personal lines broking is going through a resurgence, with rich pickings for canny brokers, industry experts believe.

Speaking at the recent Insurance Times broker breakfast clinic at the Northbank restaurant near St Paul’s in London, Allen & Allen sales and marketing director Steve McPherson said insurer confidence had returned over the last two years. He said brokers could help protect insurers from fraudulent claims through fraud checks, helping cut insurer exposure to expenses such as costly bodily injury claims.

“If you can’t write profitable motor insurance now, then walk out the door and turn the light off,” McPherson said. “It’s a good time to do it.”

Consumer attitudes to buying motor insurance have also changed over the past two years, McPherson believes. “Consumers still want their cheapest rate,” McPherson said, “but they want to speak to someone who knows about buying motor insurance and to have the confidence that they have the right policy at the right price.”

McPherson said consumer feedback showed they were pleased that brokers would ask questions about their policies and make sure their needs were met.

Aviva head of broker personal lines Sam Hudson said brokers had never had it so good, and were starting to re-establish themselves in a market some had written off to  aggregators and direct insurers.

A successful personal lines broker would need a strong online presence, he said, and added that aggregators, far from being a broker’s enemy, could be used to get more business.

“Some needs just can’t be met online,” Hudson explained. “You need to talk to a broker.”

Insurers and brokers also need to keep good lines of communication, Hudson said, even if this is not always easy in a market where so much business is carried out online.

Autonet director Ian Donaldson said the online world offered brokers many advantages.

Brokers could use online branding to increase their market share, while launching specifically tailored brands on aggregators was a good way for brokers of any size to get leads, he said. He added: “We are never going to be a GoCompare and spend £60m on advertising.”

Personal lines brokers could also increase their value to insurers by providing extra services such as age and fraud checking. “There’s going to be a tick-list for insurers pretty soon,” he warned.