Brokers shared their views on insurer strategy, service levels, skills and efficiency in e-trading at a roundtable hosted by Insurance Times publishing director Shân Millie and Aviva’s broker digital and innovations manager Anna-Marie Powell
1. How important is e-trading to a broker’s operation, and what role can insurers play in enabling brokers to use this technology to support their business goals?
The varied participants were clear: e-trading, in all its guises, is a business necessity. What is less clear, however, is how this translates, day-to-day, into a real competitive edge.
Also debated was how insurers can – and will – play their part.
Insurer extranets are useful, but primarily for pricing, rather than trading.
Brokers are actively trying to work out how to deploy digital capabilities to create greater efficiency – for them and their clients – while strengthening the human and technical aspects of client relationships.
Brokers perceive e-trading as a key factor in supporting wholesaling, white labelling and affinity, and in expanding personal lines business into commercial lines.
On the whole, insurer strategy to support broker goals still lacks clarity and real ‘muscle’.
E-trading is about using technology to do business more efficiently, using the back office to get quotes and data, and using customer relationship management to understand your clients”
Paul Williams, Jelf
2. How can insurers support brokers?
Brokers are crying out for a single platform supported by all insurers, and standard data exchange between them to cut out data re-keying issues.
The discussion group asked why all the insurers use different systems.
The broker digital ‘wishlist’ includes getting close to claims and settlement data – rather than blogs and other ‘marketing tools’ that currently seem to be a focus for insurer offerings.
Online chat facilities are a useful tool for brokers, but are no substitute for direct contact with the underwriter.
The big focus for us as a broker is how do insurers with e-trading sites make it so that when you hit a button, everything appears without [the broker] needing to duplicate. We recognise this is a big task”
Ian Donaldson, Autonet
3. What can Insurance Times do to support both brokers and insurers?
Keep asking insurers to communicate their e-trading strategies and offerings for, and to, brokers.
Write more about broker usage of digital technology in all its forms, including the differences between using digital techniques to gain and keep customers, and e-trading with insurers.
Share case studies of brokers and insurers working successfully together.
Help the industry unpick the issues around the small and medium-sized enterprise market: the different definitions, strategies and how these can be executed online.
Our discussion group was obsessed with developing their businesses, gaining competitive edge, and servicing clients better. We came away with a very clear steer on what we need to do to support brokers, and insurers”
Shân Millie, Insurance Times
What we learnt:
Anna-Marie powell, digital and innovations manager, broker performance, Aviva
Q: What did you take from the event?
A: It reinforced a lot of the development areas we needed for the website and making our technology solutions work better for brokers, and provided an open and honest forum for us to explore new things. For example, I did not appreciate that an e-solution for wholesaling was a big need.
Q: What did you learn from the brokers’ feedback?
A: Brokers are looking for a consistent understanding of e-trading, digital and what technology can be taken advantage of today to generate business success. Lots of education is needed in the technology space outside pure quote, buy and administration of small commercial and personal lines business.
E-trading and digital will provide more opportunity beyond policy quote, sales and admin”
Anna-Marie Powell, Aviva
Q: What role will e-trading play in the future of broker distribution?
A: E-trading and digital will provide more opportunity beyond policy quote, sales and admin, and initiatives like live online chat will expand into further servicing areas for insurers. App development will give brokers more scope to sell and generate leads on the road. The key is for insurers to identify the ‘nuggets’ and develop these with brokers jointly.
Matthew Wood, product manager, Aon, on why big brokers need to think like smaller firms:
“I was interested to hear what other people were doing, particularly smaller brokers, because Aon needs to think more like a smaller broker to be more successful in this space.”
Mike Cairns, finance director, Carroll Insurance Group, on using multiple insurer extranets for quotes:
“There is a danger that we become the unpaid data entry clerks for the insurers.”
Kevin Bell, sales manager, Lockton, on why the web is an essential part of the insurance toolkit:
“The internet is the tool of choice - people get their quotes online whether you like it or not, and between us and our competitors it’s the first to pick up the phone who gets the business; it’s as simple as that.”