Insurer revamps web platform in bid to increase SME critical mass

Intermediary-only insurer MMA has revealed plans to grow its small and medium enterprise (SME) business five-fold by 2007.

MMA's SME business, which includes commercial package products for offices, surgeries, shops, restaurants and pubs, will generate gross written premium (GWP) of about £4m in 2003.

Marketing director Derek Plummer said that the insurer was aiming to achieve a critical mass of £20m GWP in that business in the next three to four years.

"To be effective writing any account you have to have critical mass," Plummer said. "Our ambitions for the next few years for that account are far from modest ."

Private motor currently accounts for 45% of MMA's £206m total GWP and Plummer said that while the insurer was happy with its position in motor, it was aiming to become more "balanced". He said the insurer was not concerned about competing in the heavily contested SME space. "We're big enough to have scale, but small enough to be choosey."

Plummer said that with many SME premiums worth less than £1,000, the ability to transact in a cost effective way was crucial.

After consultation with its brokers, MMA has revamped its web-based trading platform, Broker Online Services (BOS). To support its push into SME, quote engines for property owners, offices and surgeries, and shops have been added to the site, which was relaunched on 1 November.

Plummer said the site, which could previously only generate quotes for motor trade and master tradesman's policies, has also been enhanced.

Brokers using BOS can now fill in proposals and generate and print quotes electronically. The policy is then automatically uploaded to MMA's underwriting system, giving the client immediate cover. Cover notes can be printed by the broker.

The increased SME focus follows a decision by MMA to restrict its activities in construction. Plummer said the business was no longer underwriting larger construction risks.