Insurers were lambasted for being "too big, too arrogant and too out of touch with the needs of the broker channel" on the opening day of the Insurance Times Premium Content conference for insurance brokers in Wolverhampton last week.
Addressing almost 300 delegates, chairman of broker Layton Blackham, Chris Blackham, said the future success of all brokers was disproportionately governed by their close and dependent links with insurers.
"We should fear the concentration of so much power in the hands of a few insurers. We should fear the written and unwritten agendas these insurers are committed to," he said.
Blackham said industry consolidation and the desire to achieve "the elusive 15% return on capital" had caused insurers to cut costs, sacrifice quality and provide "lowest common denominator service". He also criticised insurers for not working hard enough to introduce technology to the insurance process and for their pursuit of direct business at the expense of broker relationships.
However, he said there had never been a more exciting time to be an insurance broker. "There are threats, but threats are opportunities in disguise."
Royal & SunAlliance's director of distribution strategy Brendan McManus responded to Blackham's speech by saying, although it was a view shared by many, brokers had to take some of the responsibility for inefficiencies in the system.
"A lot of the inefficiency in the industry is not the insurers' responsibility in totality... problems are caused by inaccurate information coming from them or their own slowness in getting information to us," he said.
McManus added there were companies providing good service that did not get any credit.
"The reality is brokers have to look to themselves for improvements," he said.