Those who predicted the fall of comparison sites have been proven wrong
As bidders line up for RAC, Aviva is roaring ahead in the motor market. The insurer has announced plans to return to aggregator sites in the summer – something of a climb-down following its highly publicised departure two years ago. RAC, however, remained on aggregators, meaning that Aviva was effectively hedging its bets without compromising its own brand. When RAC is sold, this will no longer be the case. It is a mark of the aggregators’ might that Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, has acknowledged it cannot operate without them.
Those who predicted the demise of the sites have been emphatically proven wrong. Insurers may not be keen, but customers are, so the industry will have to find a way to live with them (and make money from them). This will include new technologies to combat application fraud and further increases in ancillary products and cross-selling. The smart money, though, is on actually owning the sites themselves. Admiral Group has already done this with Confused.com, and Peter Wood recently announced his ambition to expand his stake in Gocompare to full ownership. Don’t be surprised to see a major UK insurer (or broker) follow suit.
• Adrian Brown has put a major vote of confidence in Jon Hancock. Paul Donaldson is a tough act to follow, and Amanda Blanc and Chris Hanks are fearsome rivals. Now the market needs to see this confidence fulfilled – Hancock must make a big entrance and a lasting impression if the good ship RSA is not to be destabilised. Meanwhile, Donaldson has a new job, dealing with global brokers on a worldwide stage. It’s a logical move, mirroring changes in how those brokers place risks. But large organisations are not always logical, and Donaldson will have his hands full breaking down the barriers between individual fiefdoms. The support of Brown and his fellow chief execs, as well as group boss Andy Haste, will all be vital to his success.