However, brokers must improve communications too as overall insurer service also reflects on their own businesses from an end customer lens, adds Broker CEO Forum panellist
Insurers should focus their strategies on investing in capabilities to support broker partners in order to provide the best service that they can, according to an insurer speaking at Insurance Times’ exclusive, annual Broker CEO Forum, hosted yesterday (13 October 2022).
During the event – which was hosted under Chatham House rules at Lainston House, Winchester – the insurer representative explained: “Our strategy is focused on allowing us to invest deeply in capabilities to support broker partners and deliver great service to [them] and the customer we share.
“We will do that in the areas of core, technical engineering, great investments in data and analytics, claims optimisation [and] in our pricing and underwriting capability.”
Brokers have, mainly since the Covid-19 pandemic, been complaining about the falling levels of service that insurers provide. These complaints have largely been around brokers’ difficulty accessing decision-makers and empowered underwriters when insurer staff have been homeworking.
Thursday’s panellist, however, added that insurers saw a “broker marketplace full of innovation and distribution opportunity” that it wanted to be a “great partner” to.
Another insurance representative on the panel concurred, citing the importance of reviving broker service after the pandemic “broke the back of some of our service models”.
He explained: “As [insurers], we need to get better at what we do – we need to make sure that, from a service perspective, we are investing in our what our service looks like.”
When questioned by event chair Katie Scott, Insurance Times editor, about whether hybrid working models – where employees split their time between the office and working from home – had damaged levels of service from insurers to brokers, one panellist said that there was a “mixed bag”.
He explained: “In the first days of homeworking, it did provide a real challenge in terms of the levels of service that we were able to give [brokers].
“What we’re seeing now, [however], is that the flexibility of working from home has allowed us to recruit more widely in a really difficult labour market because we’re no longer constrained by our location.”
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A wider pool of potential recruits has allowed insurers to be much more selective about who they hire, making sure that only the best employees are appointed, the panellist added. This has a knock-on effect on the service insurers can provide.
However, the panellist added that “there is always more to do on service” and explained that his firm’s engagement with the industry was one of its priorities so that it could “continue to innovate” its service model for brokers.
Quality over quantity
The panellists also highlighted that while service was contingent on efficient communication between brokers and insurers, the quality of the responses could also be much improved.
One insurer representative explained: “It’s not just responsiveness [that is important], it’s the quality of the responses you get.
“What you lose from that homeworking environment is learning and development [for service providers], the ability to ask your peers what they think.
“That’s something we’ve lost and we need to harness that to make sure we constantly educate and bring people forward – that’s something [insurers] all need to face.”
More engagement between insurers and brokers to identify “pain points” and “wasted time” via joint projects was suggested as a solution by a one attendee on the panel.
In response, an insurer panellist said that their firm was already exploring this idea by working with its largest broker partners via a systems thinking approach, which would identify “where the value and where the waste in the distribution process is”.
He explained: “This intervention is guiding us to where the best investments we can make for our relationships are, to drive high demand and make the process as efficient as possible.”
However, brokers also need to pay attention to how they could improve communications, explained another panellist.
He said: “People need to be working together – the key is, as brokers, you’ve got to remember that if you’re looking at an insurer’s service, it reflects on you as well.
“You’ve got to keep an eye on your partners and how they’re performing, working with them across the board to improve service to brokers and the end customer is an important thing for the industry to do.”
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Broker CEO Forum: Insurers must invest in broker service after pandemic ‘broke the back’ of service models