Zurich’s eTrading journey has evolved from lowest on the leader board in 2018 to being among the high fliers in 2022, based on broker feedback. Insurance Times gets the lowdown on the insurer’s transformation so far…

The past few years have witnessed quite a turnaround for insurer Zurich and its eTrading platform.

Back in 2018, Zurich’s ZTrade platform trailed in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading – the insurer finished last among the insurers ranked with a score of 3.32.

This lowly performance was further cemented by a one star rating from brokers the following year in 2019.

The tide began to turn, however, in 2020. Zurich refreshed ZTrade to become Zurich Online and surveyed brokers recognised the insurer’s changes with a three star rating. In 2021, brokers were yet again pleased with Zurich’s continued improvements, awarding the company a four star rating in Insurance Times’ annual report.

This year, Zurich Online reached the pinnacle of its transformation journey, receiving the highest five star recognition from brokers in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading 2022. The platform ranked second overall, compared to sitting in sixth place back in 2021.

The insurer attributes some of this success to overhauling its SME business, which included launching a new self-serve eTrading platform, designed to reduce unnecessary referrals to underwriters and enhance its overall responsiveness for brokers.

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Will Edwards

Will Edwards, Zurich’s head of SME, tells Insurance Times: “We’ve developed a new system, a new product and we’ve revamped the training with our underwriters with dedicated teams in Cardiff and Leeds.

“We’ve put in place development plans for underwriters and tried to bring alive the service that we offer to brokers, [to] show how what we do as a business can really help our broker partners and their customers.

“For the SME eTrading business, we really try and make it as easy as possible to do business with us.

“Speed of service is a key priority, hence the majority of our platform referrals are handled by one of our dedicated SME underwriters within 30 minutes. We really do pride ourselves on the service and that’s by phone or live chat, whichever way the broker wants to engage with us. We try and make the service as easy and frictionless as possible.

“We’ve built our propositions out - whether that’s via Zurich Online or via software houses - and our aim is to build solutions that the market and our brokers want to see and that brokers’ customers need.”

Zurich’s proposition via software house systems has proved successful this year too - brokers gave it a five star rating in Insurance Times’ 2022 survey.

Edwards says this is the result of listening to broker feedback and acting on it, whether it is in relation to service, propositions or the general experience of working with Zurich.

He adds: “Our focus is on getting brokers from their first query to the right underwriter, so their queries are resolved as quickly as possible. We support all contact channels, whether it is live chat, phones or platform referrals, whichever way the broker wants to come in.

“We try and make it that whichever way [brokers] want to contact us, we will engage with. We’ve increased our focus on different areas - such as live chat, which historically wasn’t as prominent - because a broker could be on live chat with us while they are talking to one of their customers [via another channel].

“Therefore, while they’re speaking to the customer they could be answering the questions they have got. We are really trying to make sure we can deliver whichever route is the most frictionless experience for the broker.”

Taking feedback seriously

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Zurich has continued to support broker partners. As a result, it was one of the few insurers to achieve five stars for the Five Star Rating Report’s quality of service metric - while many of its peers suffered a rating decline in this area.

As well as providing support throughout the pandemic, Edwards says Zurich has continued to develop its underwriting team by maintaining their training and giving them a defined career progression framework.

This structured pathway has had a direct bearing on the service Zurich provides, according to Edwards.

He explains: “We worked hard to keep all our contact channels open during the pandemic, so that had quite an impact on different businesses. We felt it was really important to maintain our levels of service for our brokers.

“We did that because SMEs were going through difficult times and we wanted to make sure we were there for them, as well as our broker customers, when they needed us.

“What we do in the service centre and the two underwriting centres is about providing the best support for our broker partners. The fact that we could keep it open during the pandemic is a testament to the teams.”

Zurich is also committed to using the feedback it receives from brokers to constantly update its products and platforms.

This was reflected by the scores in the Five Star Rating Report: ETrading 2022. Breadth of cover and product range as well as usability and trading ease were Zurich’s top performing service metrics in the survey’s insurer extranet analysis.

Edwards says: “We constantly update the products and the platform based on feedback. We read every piece of broker feedback we get. We take it really seriously.

“We have our own digital propositions team embedded within the SME eTrade team and we deliver changes regularly, every single month. We can identify the issue then build whatever we need to deliver a solution.

“For example, we recently launched an electric vehicle (EV) proposition within our fleet product. EVs are becoming an ever-increasing part of what we do in society, so alongside [providing a high quality] service, it is [about] trying to build the propositions for what customers need.

“We have also looked at ways to diversify our product offerings. We work with other partners so we can link into their products, which is something different and diversifies the ways we can engage with brokers and, therefore, customers.”

Continuous improvements

Although the transformation at Zurich has been impressive to date, Edwards says this work will continue as the insurer strives to keep moving the business forwards.

He concludes: “We’re constantly reviewing our underwriting appetite. We’re always looking at areas where we can improve from an underwriting perspective to make it better for the brokers. We’re always looking at the ways we can interact with brokers to make it easier for them.

“We’re focusing on how we build deeper, stronger relationships with our brokers. So [we’re looking at] how the service we offer them improves our relationship, how it improves our understanding and therefore builds a stronger point of contact between our brokers and ourselves.

“The rate of change is not going to slow down. Therefore, it is how we work together to improve [eTrading] together, to make the market as efficient as possible for brokers and customers.”