Digitalisation in commercial lines is ‘not impossible’, but it is flagging behind digital progress in personal lines ‘for good reason’, says commercial lines boss

Insurer Allianz is focusing on making its eTrading capabilities “slicker” for brokers after it acknowledged that its 2022 ratings in Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: ETrading 2022 are “indicative of where we are” and “a fair reflection” of current service levels, according to Simon McGinn, chief executive of Allianz Commercial.

This year’s eTrading report from Insurance Times, which polled 820 brokers and was published in May 2022, saw brokers award Allianz’s extranet – QuoteSME – an overall four star rating, mirroring its result from 2021’s report.

Brokers gave QuoteSME four stars across all five of the service metrics measured within the 2022 report – including usability and trading ease, quality of support, quotability, quality and number of questions asked and breadth of cover and product range.

As for its service via platforms, broker respondents awarded Allianz an overall three star rating – again, the same as its 2021 score.

Despite the insurer’s star rating staying static this year, McGinn told Insurance Times that Allianz is “on an improving path” when it comes to polishing it eTrading proposition.

He said: “We have had, for many years, a very strong eTrade offering – [especially] when it first became a major channel of distribution.

“It’s one of those classic examples [where eTrading] just became very successful, [then Allianz’s offering became] out of date [and needed] updating. So, we’re going through the process of improving the pricing capabilities to give us a wider footprint.”

McGinn emphasised that Allianz is keen to be “slicker” and “easier to trade” with digitally.

“We still [have] a long way to go,” he added. “But it will continue to improve.”

Digitising commercial lines

Despite Allianz’s investment into eTrading, McGinn acknowledged that the wider commercial lines market is still playing digital catch up to personal line propositions. This trend is “for good reason” due to the “much more complex product set” that is typically encompassed within commercial line portfolios, he said.

Furthermore, “the level of advice” and “the differentiation required to bespoke cover to customers” means that it is “much harder to standardise” processes around commercial products.

Although digitalisation within commercial lines may be more difficult compared to personal lines, McGinn added that it is “not impossible”, however.

He explained: “The biggest issue the industry has is the exchange of data between different parties in providing a cover to a customer, or even just a quotation – [it] is too clunky and we pay a lot of money just moving data from person A to person B, who might then show it to person C, who sends it back to person B, who goes to person A. There’s a lot that we can be done there.

“The big issue in digitalisation now for commercial [lines] is about how do we improve the connectivity between organisations to let data flow so that what we enable our experts to do is not spend time keying and doing data entry, or communicating that data to somebody else, but actually enabling them to use their expertise.”

To mitigate this challenge at Allianz, McGinn said that the insurer was tapping into artificial intelligence and machine learning to attempt to create a “slicker process” around digital commercial insurance buying journeys.

“One of the mistakes we make as an industry sometimes is we think small [risks should be] digital [and] big [risks are] non-digital. Actually, it’s more about [the] complexity of risk,” McGinn added.

“[It is more about the] simplicity of risk and making sure we deploy the right technology for those particular segments based on [an] understanding of complexity.

“[There is] lots of work to do in that space and that should improve the journey for the customer.”