Hill House Hammond managing director Eric Galbraith
talks personal lines - past, present and future

1. What effect do you think new entrants such as esure and bluesure will have on the personal lines sector?
It should be good for those customers who meet their criteria, but in targeting particular sections of the market, their entry will undoubtedly put competitive pressure on those areas. Hill House Hammond (HHH) has had feedback from customers who've considered moving, but appreciate our taking the wider view - in that we'll look at the whole family's insurance needs not just those who fit a narrow profile. Overall, we haven't seen a great impact so far.
2. Do you think that insurance brokers should be focusing more on commercial lines in today's market?
Personal lines business still offers a large untapped opportunity for brokers in various segments, but commercial lines is, of course, ideal for brokers. Many customers want to obtain independent, best advice, with a choice of products, on both personal and commercial business. Certainly, we recognise the value of offering an all-round service and are significantly growing our commercial operation over the next few years.

3. What impact will technology have on personal lines brokers in the next couple of years?
Same as the last few. It will cost us a lot of money, take additional administration to implement and we need to be careful it doesn't take the focus off customer service. We find many brokers who look to us to acquire their businesses are daunted by the prospect of keeping up with new technology, and this can be a decisive factor.

4. What had the most effect on personal lines insurers and brokers last year?
The need for premium increases put
considerable pressure on the industry. Apart from that, we had the debacle of the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC), the Independent crash, the impact of 11 September on global market and the requirement to address varying standards of service.

5. What do you think will have the biggest impact this year?
Capacity issues, reductions in cover and continuing pressures from new providers.
It will be important to provide choice and real answers to customer needs, hence our aim to be recognised as a leading intermediary, providing insurance and risk-based solutions for individuals and businesses.