The insurer’s chief executive wants ‘to be the best’ at digitally trading with brokers, aiming to have ‘80% of risks priced within an hour and digitally delivered to a broker’

Insurer Allianz plans “to make quite a bit of investment” into its eTrading capabilities, with chief executive Colm Holmes emphasising that the firm wants to “be number one” in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading.

This year’s eTrading report, published in May 2022, saw surveyed brokers award Allianz’s QuoteSME extranet a four star ranking, placing it in fourth place overall behind Aviva, Zurich and QBE. In terms of its eTrading service via platforms, brokers ranked Allianz in sixth place with a three star rating.

Holmes acknowledges that there is “lots to do” to improve these scores and reach the upper echelons of Insurance Times’ exclusive rankings.

He says: “We need to move up – I want to be number one.

“It’s very simple – I want to be the best at this and we need to make quite a bit of investment.

“We have a big platform investment going on at the moment. Some of that is necessary so we can get the pricing of the products very quickly into the hands of our brokers and it just takes a little bit of time.”

Colm Holmes, Aviva

Colm Holmes

Alongside the findings of Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading, Holmes says that Allianz obtains its own feedback from broker partners as well, helping to outline key focus areas for the insurer’s improvement plan.

“We speak to brokers and they tell us what they want to see. They’d like to see more products represented digitally. They’d like ease of action, so whether it’s an intranet or an extranet system, they need to these days almost operate at the same pace, the same seamless approach to it, but the rating has to be good,” he explains.

“So, what we’re doing is looking at how are we available digitally?

“What the brokers are saying to us is they want to [eTrade] for much smaller risks. They don’t have the time. They can’t afford the expense to actually manage the placing of each risk.

“We know what we need to do.”

New gold dust

Part of Holmes’ strategy involves using “new gold dust” data to “speed up the underwriting process”.

Allianz, therefore, currently has “some big projects underway” that are evaluating the underwriting process, seeking to understand existing steps in Allianz’s system, as well as ringfence where automation and data enrichment can add value.

Holmes notes that there is a “huge amount of work going on” here.

He explains: “One of my big things in underwriting is speed.

“We need to go from taking two weeks to underwrite a risk because of the complexity of systems and tracking down data – because one of the biggest changes is the availability of that data, that you can now underwrite that same risk in an hour.

“And that’s what we want to get to - that 80% of risks can be priced within an hour and digitally delivered to a broker. That to me will be success.

“We’re quite some ways off that, but I can definitely see how we get there. It’s just going to take time and investment. [Change] takes investment, it takes time, it takes talent.

“I’ll never be happy with how long anything takes because I lack patience, but it does take time and I get that.”

Holmes does believe the insurer is on an upward trajectory, however.

He adds: “We are the biggest general insurance company in the UK. So, for us, it’s about building on what we now have. How do we become number one in all the areas that we desire to work in?

”The good news is for the first quarter of this year, our premiums are up. We’ve had two or three years at Allianz restructuring, so we’re out of that.

”The feedback I’m getting from brokers is that it’s great that Allianz is back open for business again, that [there] is a real positive attitude to underwriting. We’ve made some changes with personnel, we’ve changed some of our focus.

”I pay a lot of attention to what I’m told and brokers tell us where we’re good, where we’re not good and we look to fix that. Very positive first quarter, but more to go.”