Ian Newman, head of SME strategy and development at Covéa Insurance, shares his 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, Covéa Insurance’s head of SME strategy and development, Ian Newman, discusses the insurer’s 2022 results.

Brokers awarded Covéa Insurance an overall three star rating in 2022’s Five Star Rating Report: ETrading, meaning the firm has lost a star compared to 2021. What is your reaction to this result?

It is obviously disappointing news but we appreciate that as the market matures, the expectations and demands of our brokers increase and the results of this year’s survey have shown that we need to work even harder to continue developing our products and our people to meet the needs of our partners.

Ian Newman

Ian Newman

We are currently going through a programme of reviewing our underwriting rules, to ensure the products refer as little as possible and allow our team of underwriters to focus on supporting our brokers with complex policies. 

In addition, we are investing in developing our service proposition with the reintroduction of live web chat as a further way to connect easily with brokers.

Usability and trading ease was ranked by brokers as Covéa Insurance’s top performing service factor, across its extranet delivery and via platforms. How has Covéa Insurance sought to improve its usability and trading ease? 

The service we provide to our brokers is a number one priority for Covéa - it is something we take pride in.

Over the last couple of years, we have focused on driving product efficiencies on Acturis and via Covéa Insurance Online. We’ve done this by reviewing our underwriting rules and ensuring that the simplest risks are automated, which allows our underwriters to focus on handling more complex risks.

We will continue to review and refine our eTrade proposition as we look to use advanced data and greater feedback to manage our product rules.

Covéa Insurance’s extranet - Covéa Insurance Online - achieved its lowest broker rating in the quality of support metric. Why do you think this is and how does the firm plan to improve this service area?

In order to turn this around, we have restructured our team and increased resources, all with the intention of improving our service delivery and ensuring that the right teams of people are servicing relevant products.

As we have seen over the last few years, more complex risks are being traded via insurers’ extranets - to support this, we are continuing to improve the capability of our underwriters, to ensure our quality of service is maintained and exceeds brokers’ expectations.

Lastly, we are also empowering our trading team to have more underwriting authority and respond more efficiently to queries that are being raised.

This year’s eTrading survey found that 41% of brokers have to wait two days or more for a referral to clear, while 74% have to wait at least one day for a complex referral to clear. What can help reduce these waiting times?

As we develop our eTrade products to cater for bigger and more complex risks, the need to respond quickly to complex referrals will become more important. At Covéa, we are working hard to reduce the number of simple referrals by automating our product rules - this enables more time and capacity to be focused on complex queries.

In addition, we are looking at our service proposition so that simple queries can be channelled through a live web chat facility, freeing up other communication channels to support more complex queries.

Despite the increase in complex eTraded risks, 93% of the queries submitted to us in April and May this year were responded to within 24 hours. We will strive to ensure that we don’t dip below this level this going forward.

Covéa will also be launching a new and improved referral process in August this year, starting with eTraded commercial combined and property owners cover. The new process will instantly inform brokers of the information we require at the point the quote goes into a referral status.

This will allow brokers to ask their customer any additional questions while they still have the client on the phone, resulting in a faster quote response.

Just under half (47%) of brokers believe that both broker management systems and insurer extranets will remain dominant in the next three to five years. What is your view?

As the risks that get placed via eTraded platforms get more complex, I can still see these platforms being used for years to come.

These platforms will evolve to enable more support for brokers, thanks to the greater use of technology and data enrichment. This will, in turn, help all parties better understand the risks being presented as well as simplify processes.

However, insurers will need to continue to invest in the development of their platforms, to ensure the benefits of eTrading carry on.

Brokers are also calling for more interaction with their insurer partners. How does your system promote interaction with brokers or do you have any plans to increase available touchpoints?

We are keen to ensure we are building strong trading relationships with brokers and we want them to build a rapport with our underwriters so they know where and how we can support them to grow their business.

One area which we are investing heavily in is web chat. We are currently investigating the best proposition around this technology in order to enhance our brokers’ trading experience with us.

How do you ensure only the most relevant questions are put to brokers trading via Covéa Insurance Online? How often do you re-evaluate question sets?

As part of our continuous proposition review and refinement, we audit our question sets on a regular basis.

Like many other insurers, we are also looking at what additional benefits can be gained from data enrichment - for example, helping to eliminate some of the questions asked and provide additional insight around how to make life easier for brokers.

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

Our focus is going to be on increasing our quotability and reducing how often our quotes go to a referral status.

Where there is a referral, we are focusing on providing a more seamless referral process with a ’one and done’ approach - we appreciate it can be frustrating for brokers when they have to go back and forth to the customer when they are asked to provide additional information.

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

As we are seeing more and more complex risks placed via eTrading, there will be an increased onus on brokers to ensure they have all the necessary information to complete insurers’ question sets, as opposed to the provision of a manual presentation for these risks.

Data enrichment and technology solutions will allow brokers to answer less questions and drive a more streamlined customer journey.

We will likely see more broker B2C sites appearing for customers to place smaller risks online and, therefore, freeing up time for brokers to speak to customers about the larger and more complex policies.


Brokers, click here to take part in 2022’s MGA Survey. For participating, you will receive the 2022 executive report and be entered into a prize draw to win £250-worth of John Lewis vouchers