Insurers and software houses are failing to develop the technology that brokers need and this is playing into the hands of the direct writers, according to Broker Direct director Neil Harris.

Speaking at the European Motor Insurance Forum Conference in London, Harris said: “An open, efficient, progressive and competitive market, where profits replace expenses, will come about only when control of product delivery in the through-intermediary market is wrested from insurers and software houses.”

“Brokers are prisoners of software house ‘dinosaurs' who make more out of broking than brokers themselves and are still envious of the brokers' markets,” he said.

Harris said many insurance companies were shackled by archaic technology infrastructures and architectures. Cost-effective, web-enabled business-to-business and business-to-consumer solutions for smaller brokers should be their salvation, but the pace of development was dispiriting, he said.

Harris encouraged the use of broker-owned facilities such as Insureright, the arrival of open, secure, web-enabled systems protocols and wholesale reconfiguration of trading systems.

As well as electronic trading, Harris said intermediaries also needed to rationalise areas such as the collection and distribution of premiums, which he said was still “ludicrously labour-intensive and costly”.

Harris said direct writers were being kept in business by the failure of brokers to match them on technology-enabled trading. “Local brokers don't need a huge marketing spend to generate proportionate interest – local presence and name awareness will be more than sufficient. But they do need the technology,” he said.

But Harris told brokers not to lose sight of the fact that technology was only an enabler and had to fuse customer satisfaction with business success. “People buy insurance from our industry, not technology,” he said.