Five star insurer NIG tells Insurance Times how it is using insights from our latest etrading report to tailor its proposition for brokers
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of brokers using highly rated insurer etrade propositions while social distancing measures remain in place and face-to-face trading takes a back seat.
NIG’s head of centralised trading Kelly Kay and etrade business manager Nick Makin spoke to Insurance Times about the firm’s most recent broker star ratings result and how they are using the Etrading 2020 report to create NIG’s strategy plan for 2020 and beyond.
The Insurance Times Etrading 2020 results are now available; what is your reaction to your results?
We’re really pleased to retain five stars for both extranet and software houses. It shows that our etrade proposition continues to strike a chord with brokers and we’re grateful so many took the time to complete the 2020 survey.
However, we know that now is not the time to rest on our laurels. It’s clear other insurers have been investing in their etrade capabilities too.
We’re working through the valuable insight from the survey results: etrade appetite, speed of response and a multi-channel contact strategy are three themes coming across loud and clear. We’ll be using this feedback to continue to improve our products and proposition plans for 2020 and beyond.
Business continuity is essential in these disruptive times, especially through etrading. How are you ensuring your broker customers remain operational from home?
We decided to move our etrading operations from office-based to home working in March, just as our brokers were doing the same. Despite the scale of the task, we were well prepared thanks to our own regularly reviewed, rigorously tested and comprehensive business continuity plan. It’s a credit to our people how well they embraced the challenge.
For our operational teams, it’s very much business as usual. They can still access all our core business applications and systems from home, including live chat and telephone, during business hours. And thanks to our regional branch network and relationship management teams across the country, we’re still providing high levels of service with minimal disruption.
Obviously, there were challenges in the early days, but through good collaboration and clear communication across NIG, we rose to those challenges quickly to ensure our brokers and their customers continue to receive the high levels of service they’ve come to expect from us.
One of the benefits of etrade is that our extranet - TheHub - and software house trading platforms are all web-based. Brokers can log on, manage workflow and complete transactions on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices in the same way they always have.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic, what has been the impact you’ve seen on your broker platforms?
The biggest impact we’ve seen is a significant increase in inbound calls and email traffic at our etrade operations and claims centres. Much of this has been brokers seeking clarification on policy coverage in light of evolving guidance from the UK government.
To help with this, we’ve published a set of regularly updated FAQs. However, our teams remain on hand to answer any specific broker enquiries by phone, email or live chat.
What are the advantages of extranet over software houses, or vice-versa?
We view extranet and software houses in the same way; it’s important to us to give our customers choice when etrading with us. They are both trading platforms that enable brokers to self-serve our etrade products - they are part of our single etrade value proposition that gives brokers the choice to either work with us directly via TheHub, or indirectly through a software house hosted panel of insurers.
Each has different advantages, so we want to make sure our etrade products are available across different platforms.
What are the major challenges facing the insurance industry in etrading this year?
Firstly, the feedback from brokers in the Insurance Times Etrading survey highlights the need for insurers and software houses to make it easier for brokers to get a fair presentation of risk via etrading platforms without having to deal with an underwriter. This way, brokers can move from risk capture to issuing policy documents in one step during one client conversation.
Secondly, more brokers use their digital trading experience in personal lines and commercial etrading to create broker-to-customer (B2C) websites. These aim to enable clients to self-serve while achieving benefits for both broker and client.
The challenge for insurers is to make sure these broker-owned and run trading platforms use good quality risk capture data. That way, clients receive the right advice and guidance and their level of cover is appropriate for their requirements and claims experience.
Thirdly, there’s a desire from brokers to etrade higher premium cases. Traditionally, these would require talking to an underwriter – either due to the complexity of the risk or because it’s outside an insurer’s etrade appetite. While the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and integration of third-party data sources can reduce online form filling, the challenge for insurers is identifying when an underwriter needs to step in to apply experience and local knowledge to make a decision.
Automation, AI, machine learning, blockchain and advanced analytics are just some of the innovations being speedily implemented worldwide to combat business disruption. What developments have you made so far regarding these and what plans are being made for future implementation?
At NIG, we regularly appraise the external technology and fintech market. For us, adopting new technology comes down to a simple question: does it add value to brokers and their clients?
We’re currently exploring several initiatives around automation, AI integration, machine learning and advanced analytics with other brands in Direct Line Group, as well as our technology partners.