Chief executive believes it is ‘absolutely critical’ that the insurer works ‘hand in glove’ with brokers to tackle industry-wide challenges

Axa UK and Ireland has been “working hard” to “solidify, strengthen and deepen” its relationships with brokers, according to Tara Foley, the insurer’s chief executive.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Foley explained that the only way to address ongoing service complaints from UKGI brokers was to improve the quality of relationships between insurers and broker partners.

In May 2024, Stuart Reid – chairman at broker Partners&, who has also previously worked at brokers such as Gallagher and Bluefin – described current insurer service for brokers as “truly poor”.

This view is supported by verbatim broker comments gathered as part of Insurance Times’ Five Star Rating Report: Commercial and personal lines 2022/23, published in March 2023.

A personal lines broker from the south west identified “poor service standards caused by lack of staff [and] homeworking” as their biggest concern for 2023, while another broker from the south east flagged “insurer service deteriorates further” as its key concern for last year.

A further personal lines broker noted “insurer service levels and competitive premiums” as their biggest concern for 2023.

This report polled around 350 personal lines brokers in the UK.

Foley said: “In general, we’ve been working hard with our broker community to solidify and strengthen and deepen our relationships. I think that’s going well.

“The industry, insurers and brokers have worked closely together to make sure that we tackle [service] because ultimately, it’s the customer that suffers, so we’re deepening, strengthening relationships with brokers across all of the businesses.

“My view is it’s absolutely critical that we work hand in glove together because we’re all part of the same supply chain, if you like, offering service to the customer.

“What do we supply to a customer? A promise that if something goes wrong, we’ll be there and working together on the challenges that we experience are similar.

“Obviously, [insurers and brokers] play a slightly different role in terms of how we address [industry-wide] challenges, but I think it’s very important that we work on them together.”

Working with MGAs

In the same vein, Axa UK and Ireland also has partnerships with MGAs operating in the UKGI market – its commercial business supports around 50 MGA partners across motor, property, casualty and specialty classes, including financial lines.

On this, Foley said: “MGAs are of interest. We’re still working through our MGA strategy, but the partnerships that we have in place we’re very pleased with.”

These partnerships include agreeing to back Acies-owned construction focused MGA Phoenix Speciality in April 2024, as well as partnering with Aurora in May 2024 on a management liability policy.

Foley does not believe that MGAs have the ability to replace incumbent insurers, however.

She explained: “Any kind of stimulus to the market is a good thing. When you stimulate competition, you usually get a better outcome for the customer. So, this is a good thing.

“MGAs, brokers, insurers – we can all work together. There’s a role for everybody.

“Insurers have deep expertise in areas that I don’t see going away anytime soon. MGAs do some things [that are] actually quite interesting [too], that are valuable.

“To me, it’s all about partnerships. It’s not about one replacing the other.”