Already an established name in the direct motor market, Quinn-direct’s general manager, Colin Morgan tells how the company is using its Irish expertise to bring competitively-priced, hassle-free insurance to the UK. Andrew Holt reports

?Quinn-direct may have made its name with a foray into the direct motor market, but its general manager Colin Morgan is in London promoting the company to a wide range of brokers.

Morgan has just had a forum meeting with 50 London brokers and is set to move on to Cambridge to meet more. Within the coming weeks similar events are scheduled in Man-chester, where Quinn-direct has offices at Salford Quays, and the West Midlands. Since launching into the UK market in 2003 the irish insurer has built relationships with around 400 UK brokers.

“We are looking to grow these relationships further and build new ones,” says Morgan. “Our commitment on the commercial side shows that our relationships with brokers are very important.”

The company has had a good few years in the UK market, increasing GWP by €100m (£67m) in each of the last three years. It now stands at €300m (£201m).

Quinn-direct began trading in liability insurance in the UK with a particular slant towards the construction and allied trades and the leisure sectors.

“Quinn has over 30 years’ experience operating within these sectors and therefore understand the needs of business customers,” says Morgan. The company’s approach to commercial insurance is based on developing a partnership with policyholders and ensuring they are fully involved in all aspects of any claim.

“Local brokers deal with all aspects of service to business customers. This unique approach has enabled Quinn-direct to become one of Ireland’s largest insurers of commercial liability risks,” say Morgan. “Having established our presence and a network of regional brokers we are well placed to expand commercial business in the UK market.”

This business stream is expanding and the launch of commercial vehicle and fleet products position the company as an important insurer in the UK’s general insurance market.

Burgeoning book of business

Quinn-direct is part of the Quinn Group, which has interests in cement, property, plastics, glass container manufacturing and radiator production. The group employs over 5,500 people in Ireland, UK and Europe.

“We can leverage our experience and knowledge from construction and offer insurance for SMEs, clubs, shops and nightclubs. We want to grow our partnerships with brokers in these areas,” says Morgan.

But it is in the motor market that Quinn-direct makes its biggest claim. “Quinn-direct shook up the Irish insurance market by reducing the cost of motor insurance and making the purchase of insurance as hassle-free as possible. Irish consumers moved in huge numbers to Quinn-direct and the same is now happening in the UK.” Although Quinn-direct’s current share of the UK motor market is only 1.5%, Morgan sees plenty of room for growth.

“We only have a small share of this market but we are working to increase it. We want to keep building in the UK motor market and we will,” says Morgan, though he would not commit himself to a particular timescale.

“Local brokers deal with all aspects of our service to business customers. Having established our presence and a network of regional brokers, we are well placed to expand commercial business in the UK market

Colin Morgan, Quinn-direct

Much of Quinn-direct’s popularity is due to the various aggregator sites for motor insurance in the market, such as confused.com and moneysupermarket.com.

The company prides itself on being able to offer motorists reasonably- priced motor insurance cover on the basis of the savings it makes in the claims management process. It also offers easy monthly payment plans to drivers in all age groups, making it easier for them to get on the road.

“We provide motorists of all ages with competitive motor insurance prices, particularly first time and inexperienced drivers, many of whom struggle to find affordable motor insurance cover elsewhere,” says Morgan.

The business take-up for motor insurance extends the company’s presence in the UK and complements its status in the commercial liability market.

But doesn’t the very nature of the direct channel leave the broker out in the cold? “There is no doubt that in personal lines the direct channel is going to grow for us. But I think there is room for all channels – direct by phone, via the internet and through brokers.”

Driving through progress

According to Morgan, Quinn-direct’s involvement in claims is unique and based on its Irish operations. “We have plenty of experience on the claims side as Ireland has been ahead of the curve on claims and fraud, and we have been helping drive that.”

Indeed, the ABI’s care and compensation proposals, which includes a restriction on the role of solicitors in certain claims, are based on the Irish model. “It is not about reducing the compensation, it is about reducing the added costs of a claim. The majority of smaller claims do not need the added cost incurred by solicitors,” says Morgan.

Quinn-direct recently settled a legal action which alleged that it had pressured a policyholder into accepting a low payment for a multi-million pound claim. The dispute centred on a claim for €54m (£36.4m) made by the timber company Murray Timber Products after a fire at its Galway­ plant in 2005.

Morgan says that legal action is being taken against an Irish newspaper due to the way the incident was reported. As for the settlement , he adds: “It is not unusual for claims to be settled in this way. We couldn’t agree on a settled claim and that is why the courts exist.”

Last September Quinn-direct received a Baa2 financial strength rating from Moody’s and the Irish insurer’s profitability was described as excellent.

The rating agency indicated that Quinn-direct’s business model of low-cost distribution underpinned by an innovative claims model, and the absence of legacy systems and practices, makes it one of the most efficient non-life insurance operators in the Irish market.

“We are low cost, but not low quality,” says Morgan. “We offer good quality at a good price. That is why I believe we will continue to grow and be a success in the UK market.”