Brokers and insurers came together to voice their opinion on what makes good service

Lucy Taylor, Willis:

Charging fees will change the perception of brokers from being transaction handlers to being full advisers, Willis broking director Lucy Taylor said.

Whatever Willis earned was made clear in clients’ documentation, she added, explaining that the global broker charged straight fees based on the amount of service the client wanted. And, given that clients only bought insurance to have a claim paid when things went wrong, she said that good insurer service for Willis was based around claims.

“A good service that works for the client – turn that into good documentation and ensure the claims service responds fantastically well when the client does have a claim. That’s what we’re looking for,” she said.

The London market insurers looking to expand into the regional market needed to be clear about the business that was available there, Taylor added.

“They are under a complete misapprehension that there is at least what is in the London market out there in the regional market,” Taylor said. “In reality, they will be looking at the same subdivision of business as they are writing in London.”

Lynn Richards-Cole, Perkins Slade:

Insurers looking to give the best service should pay attention to the customer as well as the broker, Perkins Slade associate director Lynn Richards-Cole said. “I think it’s important to have that joined-up approach.”

The customer would value the service, she said, adding that one Perkins Slade client recently chose to stay with RSA even though the policy was available cheaper elsewhere.

“Clients are surprisingly loyal to insurers,” she continued. “If an insurer has done a really fantastic job on a claim, the client will be very reluctant to move.”

Brokers need to understand their own value to charge an appropriate fee, she added. “If you don’t understand your own value, you’re never going to convince a client.”

The recession had seen many broking customers change their behaviour, Richards-Cole added, pointing out that entrepreneurial mid-corporate business owners have adapted to it being harder to get bank loans. “I think there’s been a period of stabilisation,” she said, “and we needed that adjustment because it was going crazy.”

Graham Meacher, Ernest R Shaw:

Insurer service was crucial to brokers, according to Ernest R Shaw sales and marketing director Graham Meacher.

“Service, service, service; there isn’t anything else,” he said. “We’ve been doing a review of our relationships across the market because we’re not getting the right service – that’s the bottom line.”

Brokers value insurers that help them trade and support the trading process, Meacher said, adding that some insurers are good at helping brokers win business, but have weak claims service. A broker’s business income was based on their renewal book, Meacher said, adding that insurers that acted on this would be more valued by brokers.

Insurers are moving towards a club system for their preferred brokers, he said, adding: “Trying to be everything to 400 brokers isn’t going to work. We want something bespoke to our businesses.”

The recession has caused many businesses to go back to basics and restructure, and brokers should follow suit, Meacher said. “I’ve seen some green shoots, in a weird way. There are cashflow issues, but there are positive signs from people that are forward thinking.”

Quote, unquote

"There’s a real split between the brokers with a bent towards commission and those with a bent towards net pricing. Some people would rather not disclose exactly how much they are earning." Chris Sime, RSA

"Where our insurer relationships work is where we’ve had continuity, people who understand what we’re about and understand what our clients are about." David Wheatley, Oval

"So many insurers have sliced and diced their processes to such a degree that nobody has sight of the start and finish. Each little bit might be done quite well, but the whole is unsatisfactory." Graham Coates, Bluefin

Soundbites

Creative culture

“Innovation is a scary word. You think innovation has to be something big and fantastic, but it’s just a bright idea. It’s usually the simplest thing, and it might be the office junior that comes up with the idea. It’s about having a culture that will enable people to come forward with a bright idea that might ultimately morph into something fantastic.” Lynn Richards-Cole, associate director, Perkins Slade

Get in line

“I think innovation is something that everyone strives for. Do we always achieve it? Not quite. As an industry we have to do a lot of work to match the current economic base of our clients and what they do with the insurance environment, which is lagging at the moment. We’ve got a long way to go on that.” Lucy Taylor, broking director, Willis

Do or die

“I think the composites have the biggest issues to deal with, because they are like big oil tankers to turn round. It takes them longer to recognise their problems. Service delivery is how we decide who we are going to deal with. I think the industry has been navel-gazing for too long. If you haven’t got those answers and you haven’t got them right now, give up.” Graham Meacher, sales and marketing director, Ernest R Shaw