The chief executive admits that RSA’s broker service has been ‘at best average’

The chief executive of RSA UK and international, Ken Norgrove, has admitted that the insurer’s service for brokers is “at best average” after it received a two star rating in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report for both commercial and personal lines this year – the lowest result of all the insurers included within both research projects.

In Insurance Times’ commercial lines report for 2022, published in March 2022, RSA achieved an overall two star rating based on feedback from more than 600 brokers operating in the UKGI market.

With a two star award in each of the five service areas explored within the report, this is the third consecutive year RSA has ranked in bottom place.

As for Insurance Times’ personal lines report, published in February 2022, RSA remained in last place with another two star ranking from brokers – a spot the insurer has occupied for the past four years.

It received a two star rating across three of the five service areas investigated in this report, however it did improve its relationship handling and management and underwriting experience metrics by one star, to earn a three star rating for these factors.

Speaking to Insurance Times about these results, Norgrove said: “It’s probably consistent with the feedback that we get from some parts of the broker community.

“If you focus on the brokers that we actively trade with, our service is at best average – it’s not standing out as being poor, I wouldn’t say it’s in the two star space. But it’s certainly no better than 2.5, 3 stars.”

Norgrove succeeded Scott Egan as RSA’s UK and international chief executive in January 2022, however he joked that he is RSA “purple” on the inside, like a stick of rock, after initially joining the firm in 1986.

During his tenure, the married father of four has led both RSA Scandinavia and RSA Ireland.

Ken Norgrove

Ken Norgrove

Pandemic shocks service

For Norgrove, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a key contributing factor to RSA’s service woes in terms of meeting brokers’ expectations.

He said: “We’ve been through a period of fixing the business, we’ve been through a period of remediation. The team here did a fantastic job of turning around the financial result at RSA and we went through that pain during Covid - we didn’t respond to the needs of our brokers well enough from a service point of view.

“We recognise that and we know we need to fix that because the goodwill we have from brokers – and there is massive goodwill towards the RSA brand – will only be patient for so long.

“We need to give that love back to the brokers that they’ve given to us through that period of time.”

As an example, Norgrove referenced a call centre in South Africa that was shut down and repatriated to the UK early on in the pandemic. However, this action caused “a huge glitch in our service”, Norgrove said, which has taken RSA longer than it would have liked to recover from.

He continued: “The focus on brokers hasn’t been targeted enough over the last two years. We’ve been trying to keep all the plates spinning rather than picking our real partners and saying: ‘we’re going to improve the service in this area’ and focus on those people who are truly partnering with us.

“We were just trying to keep everyone going at the same pace. I think a more refined and targeted service proposition is what we’re after.”

Action plan

Norgrove told Insurance Times that RSA plans to tackle a few key areas to bolster its service standards for brokers.

He said: “The brokers I have met have said be clear on your risk appetite, be clear on the proposition you want to sell to us and be speedier in your response to us. We’re actively at the moment working on improving those for the broker cohort that we trade with.”

The insurer is also seeking to improve the “basics”, such as ensuring that brokers each have an individual contact they can turn to at RSA. It is also exploring the introduction of a better triage process, to respond quickly to simple yes or no queries from brokers.

“Some of those very basic attributes, we have failed on – to be quite honest – over the last two or three years and that’s where we want to build greater success,” Norgrove added.

RSA is also recruiting more underwriters, traders and service staff to boost its regional teams – Norgrove said servicing regional brokers has previously been the insurer’s “weakest” area, meaning it is now an area of focus for improvement.

Setting service targets

As a result of the steps RSA has outlined to help improve its service for brokers, Norgrove believes the insurer can make “a material difference to our service” by the end of this year.

However, creeping up Insurance Times’ rankings to achieve a coveted five star service rating from brokers is most likely still “an 18-month journey” away, he admitted.

“We’re targeting that by the end of 2023, we will be in the space where we will be fighting for a five star rating for our service to all of the brokers that we’re actively trading with,” Norgrove committed.

The insurer is also looking to boost its broker partner numbers – currently, it works with around 350 brokers. Approximately 100 of these partnered with RSA over the last year and Norgrove has plans for another 100 brokers to team up with the insurer over the course of 2022.

However, “we’re trying to do that in a slow and controlled manner because we don’t want to add brokers ahead of improving our service”, he said.

“We definitely haven’t caught up with improving our service, so we still think we’ve more to do.”

The RSA boss is keen to “go slow before we can go fast” and not rush implementing improvements to broker service. This is to avoid “overpromising” but still ensuring the firm is “constantly improving”.

He explained: “We can’t turn the dial on it overnight and it’s one thing to say publicly about providing brilliant service, but it’s another thing making sure we deliver it.

“We’re trying not to overpromise. We’re trying to be relatively meek externally in our ambitions, but we’re being extremely ambitious internally to overachieve the expectation that we’re trying to set in the market.

“We need to go slow before we can go fast and the idea of that is to make sure we meet the expectations of the people that we’re dealing with and that we don’t make false promises.

“I’m a big fan of that – go slow before we go fast – so that we don’t let people down.”