’Our technology and professional indemnity propositions are undergoing a refresh,’ says divisional managing director 

As UK brokers respond to this year’s Broker Service Survey (BSS), Insurance Times spoke to Markel UK’s divisional managing director Neil Galjaard about his firm’s relationship with brokers, plans for the next year and changes made after the previous year’s survey.

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What are you plans for the next 12 months?

We are always working to improve our products and service levels and have a number of initiatives that will come to fruition in 2024.

Our technology and professional indemnity (PI) propositions are undergoing a refresh and we are reviewing the cyber cover we offer through our specialist sector offerings.

We will also continue to invest in technology to bring greater efficiencies and better enable our underwriters to deliver faster quotes and a more responsive service to our brokers.

And we want to listen more. We have a major broker insight project in progress and are expanding our net promoter score (NPS) programme to give us even more customer insight that we can feed into our projects.

How does Markel manage relationships with brokers? 

We’re a specialist insurer with a truly people-first approach. Therefore, strong broker relationships are a cornerstone of our success story. For us, it’s not just about being an insurer, it’s about being a trusted partner.

We’ve strategically positioned ourselves in seven UK locations, ensuring our presence extends into the regions where our brokers operate.

Our structure means that brokers have direct access to specialist decision-makers who swiftly respond to opportunities, provide valuable advice or make immediate decisions.

Neil Galjaard_Markel UK

Neil Galjaard

Flexibility is key. Brokers trade with us in the way that best suits them, through face-to-face interactions or digital channels. In 2022 to 2023, we expanded our team with 50 new staff members, including in our regional broker development team.

Our commitment to building a stronger UK presence is evident in our new Leeds office space and we regularly engage with our broker partners at industry conferences like Biba, at which we hosted over 450 key broker partners. 

Our relationships are driven by feedback. We listen intently to our brokers and their insights drive our projects and investments. Through transactional NPS, we see consistently high scores, but also take the opportunity to listen to where we can do better.

How would you describe the underwriting experience you provide to brokers? 

We’re specialists, not generalists, meaning we can provide the specialist underwriting expertise, backed by years of experience, that our brokers and customers need in the sectors we support.

We have embraced technology to better enable our expert underwriters deliver faster quotes and a more responsive service to our brokers. An example of this is our use of artificial intelligence (AI) to triage new business quotes and source more data for our expert underwriters. This technology has meant we are able to deal with most submissions within a working day, but usually as quickly as two hours.

Following broker feedback, we have introduced online mid-term adjustments (MTAs) this year to ensure brokers are able to make changes to policies quickly or at a time or location that best suits their needs.

Finally, many of our partner brokers are consolidating portfolios or seeking to transfer books of business in response to poor service or claims experience during the pandemic. To meet this, we created a rapid, robust transfer facility that uses data and automation to deliver a seamless experience, including being able to send quotes 45 days ahead of renewal.

What kind of claims experience does Markel provide for brokers?

Claims is the moment of truth for policyholders. To have a claim refused can create unwanted difficulties, so our philosophy is to find ways to pay claims quickly. This approach is valued by our brokers, who gave us a five-star rating in 2022 to 2023, meaning we have achieved this rating for the fifth year running and ranked number one in the most recent survey.

Our claims teams work closely with legal experts from Markel Law who support policyholders at every stage of their claim journey. Integrity is at the heart of our claims service, which came to life during Covid-19 where we made fast business interruption (BI) claims payments through user-friendly online portals, ensuring our policyholders received the vital support they needed.

And we don’t stop there.

A cross-functional think tank improved the process of handling employment claims, reducing the time from receipt of a new claim to confirming cover back to the policyholder by 45% and the average cost of a claim by 35%.

For this type of claim, a dedicated claims portal now allows law firms to claim disbursements costs when handling personal injury cases, helping with cash flow and saving administration time.

How does Markel approach the overall quality of cover provided for brokers?

We are trusted by over 1m UK customers to deliver an award-winning combination of insurance solutions and tax, legal and consultancy expertise.

Our products are designed to specifically meet the needs of the sectors we target, such as care, charities, life science, technology and construction. Each is supported by teams of specialists with years’ experience in each sector and come with highly relevant propositions that explicitly address key industry challenges, such as the risk of abuse in the care industry.

We always remain committed to our markets, creating stability for both brokers and customers. In the PI and legal expenses sectors, our 30-plus year legacy of consistent underwriting is a clear demonstration of our longevity.

We also believe in creating additional value for our customers by focusing on reducing business risk. For every policyholder, we provide free access to a legal helpline, offering expert guidance when they need it most.

For our care customers, we go a step further with a dedicated team of 30 plus specialist consultants who bring invaluable insights and support. In the construction sector, where mental health is a growing concern, we offer mental health support to our clients, demonstrating our commitment to their overall well-being.

What about the policy documentation provided to brokers? 

We’ve always believed in doing everything we can to help our customers understand the cover they have purchased and Consumer Duty means it’s ever more important to ensure documents are clear. 

We’ve taken the complexity out of insurance jargon. Our documentation is written in plain English, free from confusing insurance terms – everything from our contacts to our claims and complaints processes are documented, leaving no room for ambiguity.

And we go further. Our policy wordings are dynamic, meaning customers only receive the insurance clauses they’ve purchased, rather than the full set of clauses that are applicable to the product again, to avoid confusion.

Brokers play a vital role in helping customers understand the complexities of their insurance. That’s why we provide distributor product guides that help brokers grasp the nuances of the cover we offer and we continually run internal projects that ensure our communications are up-to-date and clearly sign-post value-add benefits.

This includes onboarding emails that explain to new and renewing policyholders what benefits they have access to and how to access them – our care consultancy, legal team and tax experts are just a phone call away.

What actions did you take following last year’s ratings and feedback from brokers?

The Insurance Times Five Star survey is incredibly useful for insurers to better understand central issues of importance to brokers.

Last year’s survey directly influenced a number of projects at Markel, including the introduction of online MTAs and improvements to our renewals processes. We also set up an internal project around documentation to ensure our communications are up-to-date and clearly sign-post value-add benefits.

And we are investing in the talent within our regional broker development team with training and career frameworks.

We know that brokers value our specialist sector knowledge and our investment in insight and therefore we launched a new care insight report, entitled Navigating Turbulent Times, to ensure we are delivering the most up-to-date proposition and enabling our brokers to understand the unique risks of this sector.

This is an approach that we will continue to adopt across 2024.


Brokers, click here to take part. All brokers that take part will be entered into a prize draw to win £250 worth of John Lewis vouchers.