Aim is to create 'good old-fashioned service' to brokers

Broker Network is proposing to create a string of Lloyd’s-style trading rooms in a bid to drive up the level of service it offers its members.

The network’s managing director Nick Houghton told Insurance Times that he aims to set up a pilot trading room at its headquarters in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The concept will then be rolled out across the network’s regional offices, with a view to establishing a total of six or seven rooms.

Houghton said the network had discussed the initiative with a number of partner insurers, including AXA, Aviva, Fortis, Zurich and NIG.

Broker Network has invited insurers to participate via a tender, with formal responses due back by the beginning of next week.

Houghton said the aim of the initiative was to ensure a better and more consistent level of service for Broker Network members than that currently on offer from the major insurers.

“Insurers have fundamentally changed over the last 10 years in the way they talk with brokers, but brokers have not changed the way they relate to insurers. This is about creating a marketplace that delivers good old-fashioned service.”

Staff cuts at the major insurers meant that many of the personal relationships, which brokers in the 40-plus age bracket tended to rely on when conducting business, had broken down, Houghton said.

“Brokers are getting inconsistent service because of changes to distribution methods,” he said, adding that the network will unveil its plans to members at regional meetings over the next fortnight.

Under the trading room arrangement, insurers participating in the initiative will base underwriters in the Towergate-owned network’s offices, who will exclusively service its brokers. Network members would send in risks that are then distributed to the underwriters operating in that class, who will be expected to return a quote by a set deadline.

The network will provide administrative back-up to the underwriters operating in its trading rooms.

Aviva intermediary and partnerships director Janice Deakin said the trading room initiative offered the insurance giant benefits from consolidating its work with the network’s small broker members.