The insurer is now working to improve by listening and acting on broker feedback, says commercial lines managing director

“Fear of failure” has “inhibited” RSA “in the past”, but its future aspiration, particularly in commercial lines, is to become “best in class”.

But how is the insurer planning on doing this? Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, RSA commercial lines managing director Lee Mooney says it will seek to implement a reinvigorated strategy.

This will involve listening to brokers and turning those learnings into “tangible actions”, which Mooney says RSA has not done so well in the past.

“We’ve listened in the past and we’ve changed, but we’ve changed at a much slower pace,” he explains. 

“We’re no longer going to just take feedback where it says we haven’t performed in certain areas – we’re going to make sure we listen to that, understand what’s needed, invest and take that forward.”

A key area that the business wishes to develop is its service to brokers.

Mooney began his journey at RSA in 1998, “doing filing” as a casualty underwriter.

Over the past 20 plus years he has worked his way up the ranks – serving in roles such as the firm’s director for regions and SME North and regions managing director for commercial lines.

Data dive

To gain a better understanding of the market’s needs, Mooney and his team interviewed over 200 brokers across Q3 and Q4 2022 – this involved asking questions such as “what does good service, appetite, quality and best in class mean?”

“Everybody thinks brokers want pace and a fast response, but they want speed and resilient responses [that are] built on quality”, he says.

RSA hopes to speak with a total of 1,000 people across its commercial lines business, in cohorts of eight to ten, to find out how “we can all partner together internally and work better”.

In Insurance Times’ 2023 Five Star Rating Report: Commercial and Personal Lines, data showed that RSA’s service ratings remained largely consistent compared to data last year.

For commercial lines overall, RSA again achieved a two star rating from brokers, whereas overall claims experience improved to three stars – up from two stars in 2021/22.

Relationship management remained at two stars but improved slightly in overall score, as did underwriting experience.

Mooney acknowledges that although the business has now set “some real strong foundations” to improve, “we’ve still got a long way to go to hit the aspirations that we want to deliver as a business”, as it is only “scratching the surface at the moment”.

One strategic move that Mooney hopes will have positive impact on the firm’s retention and service agenda is its hire of 65 new underwriters in 2022 – RSA will further expand on this too, explains Mooney.

To help its brokers tackle the threat of underinsurance among SMEs, RSA will start an “intervention play” – this will involve underwriters becoming more “proactive on SME renewals” by contacting the broker in advance to talk through the likes of new sums insured. 

In its SME business, a “main change” is that RSA is now looking to “capitalise” on a premium band of between £5,000 and £15,000. Its regions business previously only quoted for premiums £10,000 and over.

Personal lines departure

At the end of March, RSA announced its departure from the UK personal lines motor market citing a lack of scale to compete in a highly competitive market – parent company Intact Financial Corporation chief executive Charles Brindamour hopes this will “optimise its footprint” in areas including its commercial and speciality lines business.

Financially, RSA is operating more efficiently since Intact Financial Corporation took over as a parent company in July 2021.

On a like-for-like basis that excludes comparison with discontinued operations from 2021, RSA’s profit before tax swung from loss to profit in 2022. In the insurer’s consolidated financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2022 – released 3 March 2023 – it revealed a group profit before tax figure of £65m, an improvement on 2021’s figure of a £228m loss.

The insurer’s profit before tax for the most recent period comprises £16m underwriting profit, an investment result of £140m, £24m central costs and £67m of other income and charges.

It also includes a £31m gain on the disposal of the group’s operations in the Middle East.

In comparison, 2021 saw an £137m loss for underwriting, an investment result of £110m, £11m central costs and £190m of other income and charges.

“Our commercial lines result is as we expected, it’s in a really healthy position and it gives us a real springboard for us to grow further in 2023 and through to 2025,” says Mooney.

For commercial and specialty lines, policy retention was 86% – compared to 80% in personal lines renewal.

Looking ahead, Mooney says the opportunity in the UK’s general broker base is “significant” – given that RSA only actively deals with around 500 partners. However, “I want to make sure that it’s a value proposition that we’re driving instead of just opening the door”.

He adds: “After 24 years, I didn’t predict where I would be now, but I love the company.

”I love the people and we’ve got really strong plans now for the next five years ahead and beyond that.

“We are, and I don’t say this lightly, a very different RSA from where we’ve been in the past.”