Axa Commercial chief executive Jon Walker tells Savan Shah how the firm is now better equipped to support SME customers and how it will continue to address evolving demand following the Insurance Times Broker Service Survey 

A service area investigated in the recent Broker Service Survey was the overall relationship management provided to brokers by insurers. What has been your approach to this area over the last 12 months and what do you plan for going forward? 

Jon Walker_Axa Commercial

Jon Walker

Axa Commercial’s approach to relationship management has been cemented over the last 12 months with our ongoing commitment to and investment in regional branches, which continue to strengthen partnerships with local brokers.

We also continue to ensure our account managers and underwriters are available to brokers both face to face and in a ’smart working’ setting.

We will continue to ensure brokers and business insurance customers have the opportunity to communicate directly with underwriters, giving everyone a more in depth and detailed understanding of needs and requirements.

Across our SME business, we have a strong team in place to respond either digitally or via telephone contact and will continue to invest to provide brokers with the tools to be more self-sufficient in managing transactions should they wish to do so.

With a dedicated 120-strong SME team, Axa is now better equipped to support SME customers with the expertise required to cater for their businesses. Brokers can place SME policies online via self-service or through Axa’s team of underwriters, providing these businesses with bespoke solutions where required to support more complex risks.

With these changes, Axa Commercial continues to address the evolving needs of brokers and customers by providing solutions for however they want to do business.

Another section of the recent Broker Service Survey focused on the overall underwriting experience provided to brokers. How did you address this area in the last year? 

Over the last 12 months, Axa Commercial has continued its transformation journey, focused on digitising the underwriting environment and bringing data and insight to the fore.

We want to support our expert underwriters to make good decisions with confidence and greater speed, supported by data.

The overall aim has been to remove friction in underwriting processes and to arm underwriters with rich data to allow them to maximise their underwriting skills and make quicker decisions.

In addition, we continue to invest in the development of underwriting capability and the tools available to our underwriters that can be accessed by brokers for customers in both the mid-market and SME segments.

Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to better understand customer needs and the insurance risk and act accordingly to protect what matters most to them.

Our recent survey also investigated the overall claims experience provided to brokers. What improvements have you made here recently? 

We have made significant investment in our competency framework model to support the retention and recruitment of claims professionals, in turn enabling a consistent and sustainable claims service.

Additionally, we have introduced new claims technology, automation and data tools within commercial claims and this, coupled with the technical expertise of our people, will form the key elements of an efficient and effective claims journey for our customers.

We have also matured the use of ClaimsExperience – a video collaboration tool used to assess claims in conjunction with our customers – into commercial property, which brings together video collaboration with our customers through live assessment of their claims, supported by the experience of our expert claims handlers.

We have also introduced workflow and resource management tools to ensure our people are available and responsive to peak volumes, resulting in a stable and strong service levels, which our claims relationship managers can provide to brokers.

How have you improved the overall quality of cover provided to brokers in the past 12 months? 

For Axa, it’s important that the cover we provide to businesses is appropriate and suitable for their needs.

We know that certain clients and exposures need a more bespoke approach, so we have worked to ensure we have people on hand to develop a solution that suits both brokers and their customers.

We have products to suit many types of businesses – from SMEs to those in the mid-market – underpinned by our in-house risk management function which offers market leading services and tools that are readily available.

The overall quality of policy documentation provided to brokers is of vital importance. How has Axa Commercial addressed this area with improvements recently? 

We are focused on digitalisation and improving the quality and accessibility of our documentation.

Our aim is to provide policy documents and summaries in a way that is easy to understand for our customers.

We continually strive to improve the speed of access to documentation that supports the needs of our brokers and customers, along with investment in our systems and processes to allow us to develop and swiftly bring to market new or enhanced products to market for our customers.

What other value added services and technologies have you developed in the previous year to improve the experience of your broker partners?

Feedback received from our broker partners shows there is a real demand for more role-specific learnings.

Our response to this has been continually updating our Broker Learning Zones. This tool is free, no registration needed, with instant access to over 80 self-learn modules across sales, technical, leadership and wellbeing zones.

We are also responding to a growing challenge in broker talent recruitment and retention by creating a supported induction programme for new brokers into the industry.

Our new ‘passport’ will combine digital learning with a range of face to face events across the UK to provide a structured introduction to the commercial market ecosystem. It will explain key terminology and explore their role as brokers to build both confidence and credibility with their clients.