Julie Tongue, digital trading manager at Allianz Insurance, shares her perspective on the key insights from Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading 2022 

Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading 2022 is available now. Click here to see the full results.

Here, Allianz’s digital trading manager, Julie Tongue, discusses the insurer’s 2022 results.

For the fourth consecutive year, brokers awarded Allianz QuoteSME an overall four star rating. What is your reaction to this year’s result?

We’re pleased with the result. It is very good, but we want to be the best - we want to achieve a five star result. That’s why we’re continuing to invest in our eTrading capabilities.

We know we can’t stand still in an increasingly digital world where customer needs and expectations are changing, therefore we have taken proactive steps to transform our eTrading business for tomorrow’s requirements.

We have invested heavily in data, analytics and technology to provide a simple, data-based, digital offering. Our brokers and our customers are now starting to see the benefit.

Julie Tongue SME

Julie Tongue

When looking at the performance of insurers via a software house, for the fourth year running, brokers have awarded Allianz an overall three star rating. What do you attribute this rating to?

While we have maintained an overall three star rating, it is positive to see that our score has improved (2022: 3.79 versus 2021: 3.76) and that our ranked position has increased two places (2022: 6th).

In terms of our service via software houses, we have improved from three stars to four stars across the quality of support and breadth of cover and product range metrics - this is testament to the significant amount of work we’ve undertaken.

By removing process inefficiencies and investing heavily in our pricing capabilities, we aim to ensure that Allianz is easy to do business with.

Breadth of cover and product range as well as usability and trading ease were Allianz’s top performing service factors according to brokers using Allianz QuoteSME. What developments have taken place around these service factors over the last couple of years?

With 10 products available on QuoteSME, brokers can be assured we have a product to meet their customers’ needs.

We have identified opportunities to expand this product range, to deliver efficiencies in how business is traded with Allianz. Further activities are underway to deliver new products to market.

We constantly review our digitally traded products to ensure they remain suitable in an evolving market. Most importantly, we act upon feedback from our brokers and customers, as well as the output of independent surveys - this enables us to support our customers in the moment of truth.

Over the last 12 months, we have removed a significant number of referrals and barriers to eTrading, which has improved our brokers’ experience when trading with Allianz.

We recognise that not all digital business can be processed end to end without manual intervention, which is why our model is underpinned by expert underwriters who are able to provide assistance on more complex risks and ensure the business remains digital.

The service metric that Allianz QuoteSME achieved its lowest rating in was quality of support. This service area has, year-on-year, suffered the biggest decline in scores for many insurers featured in the report.

Why do you feel quality of support has been hit the hardest and how is Allianz developing this service area?

At Allianz, we pride ourselves on our long-standing reputation for high quality of service, so while this score is disappointing, we recognise the decline in quality of support is an industry trend rather than one which is just specific to us.

In April 2022, we launched our new digital model, making it easier for brokers to do business with Allianz. This included removing or automating a significant number of referrals and removing barriers to eTrading.

We have seen a significant improvement in our service levels as a result and received positive broker feedback. Our eTrading systems are supported by expert underwriters who brokers can contact in different ways, including by phone or live chat, to discuss more complex risks.

This year’s report found that 41% of brokers have to wait two or more days for a referral to be cleared, while 33% have to wait one day.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of brokers polled have to wait one day or more for a complex referral to be cleared.

What do you think can help reduce this waiting time in the future?

The focus has to be on reducing the volume of simple referrals, so brokers and underwriters have the capacity to discuss more complex referrals. That is our approach, to remove barriers to trade.

Where barriers can’t be removed, but underwriters would take the same action each time, we’ve automated that action.

To support brokers with simple queries, we have recently launched ARTIE X, our QuoteSME chatbot. If ARTIE X is unable to provide an answer, our expert underwriters are available to assist.

Once again, 47% of brokers this year felt that both broker management systems and insurer extranets will remain dominant over the next three to five years.

Do you think these perspectives will change in the future, or will this sentiment remain for many years?

I see both broker management systems and insurer extranets continuing to coexist over the next few years. We support both distribution routes and will continue to invest in both for the foreseeable future.

Brokers can choose how they wish to trade with Allianz, guided by their own eTrade strategy. Our role as an insurer is to make it easy for them to do business with us, whichever distribution route they choose.

Brokers are also calling for more interaction with their insurer partners. How has Allianz developed further interaction with brokers over the past few years and do you have any plans to increase broker interaction and guidance?

The feedback we receive is that brokers want to interact with insurers where the insurer adds value.

At Allianz, we have removed the unnecessary barriers to eTrading which led to an interaction that didn’t add value. This has allowed our underwriters to focus on more complex cases, interacting with brokers to ensure their customers’ needs are met.

How do you ensure only the most relevant questions are asked to brokers trading via Allianz QuoteSME? How often do you re-evaluate question sets?

We regularly review our eTrade products’ question sets to ensure they remain relevant and only ask questions which are applicable to the risk. QuoteSME has a dynamic question set, which tailors questions based on the information provided.

Allianz also uses external data to enrich our knowledge of our customers, enabling us to give the best price first time and ensure our products meet customers’ needs.

What areas of the trading experience are you focusing on developing in the year ahead?

We will continue to build on the work we have undertaken to date, in respect of both QuoteSME and our eTrading service via software houses, to deliver a high quality of service and technical excellence for our brokers.

We will continue to focus on being easy to do business with, ensuring our underwriters are available to discuss more complex risks.

Our products will continue to evolve to support our customers’ needs and we will expand our product range to continue to deliver efficiencies for our brokers in the eTrade arena.

How will eTrading and technology change the role of brokers in the years ahead?

Brokers’ essential role will remain the same - guiding clients towards the cover they need. How they do this may change, however.

The use of data will be more prevalent, for example, to enable brokers to identify their customers’ needs in a more organised way.

With brokers needing to bring efficiencies to their own processes, it is essential that insurers work with them to identify opportunities to support them in the eTrading world.