Sponsored content: Richard Webb, director at Manchester Underwriting Management, explores the importance of brokers knowing what they don’t always know

Service is a constant area of focus in the insurance industry. Customers expect service from their brokers and, in turn, brokers expect service from insurers and MGAs.

But what do we mean by service? Is it speed, accuracy, a willingness to write a risk at a cheap price, answering the phone quickly, replying to emails or going to a broker’s office?

What about the technical aspect of service? Where and who do you ask when you have questions?

Richard webb manchester

Richard Webb

The last soft market ran on for a long time and the focus was on selling on price, rather than how well the insurance might respond in the event of a claim.

Over time, sadly, the imperative for brokers and underwriters to understand technical details started to wane. Underwriting became more process-driven and, as quote and buy systems came into the market, the catchphrase “computer says no” became all too real.

Regulatory requirements

The FCA expects those on the frontline to undertake at least 35 hours of training a year. Making training compulsory is a good thing. If there is any criticism of the amount of training now expected, it is that the industry needs to have such training made compulsory.

All through the process from underwriter, claims adjuster through to placing broker and retail broker, all need to understand the products and service they provide.

At Manchester Underwriting Management we insure a lot of insurance brokers and see the issues they face. These situations are not unique to brokers either – we are all human and always learning.

No one person can know it all, so we make sure we have access to other people who can help us. We also include free access to a solicitor with our insurance broker product. This is someone our insureds can go to get advice when dealing with unknown issues before they become a problem. 

Understanding insurance

Getting a customer to understand their insurance needs and how their insurance policy will respond isn’t easy.

The issues arising out of pandemic cover and how business interruption policies responded are a good example.

In some situations, there can be evidence of the broker not fully understanding the product they are selling – business interruption sums insured is a classic example.

We have seen claims where brokers can demonstrate that they have taken clients through the demands and needs exercise and the client has made informed decisions on the cover they are deciding to take out. But we have also seen claims where the broker has either failed to complete this exercise or is unable to evidence that they have done so.

This raises the danger of a broker not appreciating that they don’t know everything, which can lead to serious consequences.

In turn, when seeking clarification, a broker is right to clarify details with an underwriter. This comes back to the service point. You need an underwriter who is available to take your questions and looks to find the answer.

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