Brokers have a ‘right to expect’ promises to be delivered, says commercial operations and distribution director

For the fourth year in a row, Covéa Insurance has earned five stars from brokers in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: Commercial Lines 2022, published in March 2022.

For Keith Hector, the insurer’s director of commercial operations and distribution, this recognition is a huge vote of confidence for every member of Covéa’s commercial lines operation.

“We are really pleased to have been awarded five stars once again, [which] comes alongside the same result for our personal lines operation, [making] this a double celebration,” he explained.

“It is a tremendous achievement for all our people across the business, without which we would not be in this position.

“What makes these ratings so special is that they come from the responses of the brokers themselves and we are so thankful that over 230 [brokers] took the time to participate on our behalf.

“Our business is distributed by intermediaries, so brokers are truly the lifeblood of Covéa Insurance.”

After last year’s five star rating, Hector decided to mark the achievement. He said he will do the same for 2022.

“Last year, I was so pleased with our performance that I got a special T-shirt printed with the various ratings on it,” he explained. “I would wear it at meetings throughout the year and I intend to get a new one created for the 2022 results.

“Given I’m a Yorkshireman and the shirt was not cheap, it is a sign of how pleased I am that I have decided to get a new one [for 2022].”

A clear focus

Examining the reasons behind Covéa’s 2022 five star rating, Hector said there is a simple ethos at the heart of the business - this helped the company stand out amid the uncertainty and challenges that surrounded the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have always been very focused on what we do,” he explained. “We have dedicated teams in every area of the business [that] are working each and every day to deliver.

“The pandemic has been a very difficult time for brokers and their clients. Where we have really done well is that we have simply ensured that, throughout our dealings with our broker partners, we have and are doing what we say we will do.

“You get a sense that it is very much part of the service that our brokers expect from us. There is a confidence from brokers that if we say something will be delivered or a call will be made, then it will be done. They also know we will respond quickly if and when a loss occurs.

“Times have changed, as have the risks that customers face. Brokers want to trust their insurer.”

Hector added that Covéa’s success stems from its employees and their willingness to support intermediaries.

“Our reputation and services are built on a really great team,” he said. “We have a high quality and stable group and that makes us consistent.

“It has been difficult to meet face-to-face in recent years, which has made the job a little harder. However, we have worked to ensure that we can provide the interaction and support that our brokers have required, albeit virtually.

“While there has been a great deal of talk around the performance of the industry during the pandemic, we have consistently ensured that we pay our valid claims promptly and with a smile on our faces.”

Building real relationships

Across the five service metrics explored in the Five Star Rating Report: Commercial Lines 2022, Covéa witnessed its biggest year-on-year score improvement in overall relationship management.

“There have been changes to what we offer our brokers, but we have also sought to stick to our knitting,” Hector said. “The relationships are so important as without them there is no trust. Our brokers have to trust us to deliver.”

He added that the insurer’s size has also forced the underwriter to focus on its relationship building.

“We are not a huge insurer so we are conscious of not falling into the trap of spreading ourselves too thin,” Hector said.

“We have a number of intermediaries that we deal with and it does mean brokers see a certain exclusivity in terms of access to our products.

“We are focused on delivering our promised service level each and every time we interact with our intermediaries.”

Etrading expansion

The past year has seen Covéa enhance its etrading capabilities too, with the launch of a new commercial combined product. Hector said the insurer has plans to further improve its digital capabilities in the year ahead in response to the ongoing broker demand for etraded products post-pandemic.

“In terms of our approach to mid-market risks, we want to be as flexible as we can and that requires the delivery of products in the way which best suits our clients,” he explained. “For our brokers, it remains a case of ensuring that they know when they come to us we will get the job done.”

Hector said Covéa is determined not to rest on its laurels - the insurer will be seeking to build on this year’s five star performance.

“We are very fortunate that our turnover in terms of our people is very low and we have been able to recruit some very talented individuals into our teams,” he added. “We will be bringing out an etrading fleet product this year and we are proud of the work we are doing to enhance diversity and inclusion.”

Hector concluded: “While we are delighted with the results we have achieved this year, we are very aware that this success has been built by the entire company. Every team and every individual has played a part in delivering the products, the services and the relationships we enjoy with our brokers.

“It remains so important to us that we not only talk a good game, but deliver on those promises, given it is something that our brokers have a right to expect.”