The new extranet will be fully up and running in the spring, when it will also be available for brokers to use on the Acturis platform

Zurich is launching a new e-trading platform for brokers placing SME business with them as it revamps its digital offering.

Zurich head of retail SME Paul Tombs says the new platform was born out of a desire to grow the insurer’s SME book of business and with help from brokers who knew what they needed in the SME market.

“One of our strategic ambitions is to grow in SME by using the expertise we have as an insurer across underwriting, claims and supporting brokers and customers to understand and manage their risks, to help support SMEs with this as well,” he says. “We have spoken to brokers about what we can do to be better in SME, and the feedback is that we could be easier to deal with, so we wanted to improve our speed of response for SMEs, and also demonstrate a hunger and desire to train and support those brokers as part of our SME offering.”

Tombs says that the new platform will give brokers more flexibility and also allow the insurer to offer more competitively-priced policies.

“We have invested in new technologies and are developing a new, faster and more flexible platform that is easier to quote and renew on,” he says. “We have also streamlined the route to market and can offer more competitive pricing to our brokers as part of that.

“Our brokers have been at the heart of the development of this platform, and we have been getting feedback from them throughout the process, as well as learning from what we have done on Z-Trade.”

New platform, new products

The platform will allow brokers to quote, bind and renew policies, initially across eight lines of business:

  • Commercial combined;
  • Property owners;
  • Shop;
  • Tradesmen;
  • Personal accident and business travel;
  • Cyber;
  • Motor fleet; and
  • A management liability product.

Tombs says that these eight lines will also include new and revamped policies, some of which haven’t been available from Zurich before.

“We are planning to enhance all of the cover we have available,” he says, “as we want to ensure that we have a wide acceptance as well around different traits.

“An example of this is our new digital commercial combined product, which brings around seven of our existing products into a single policy for the first time, and under that there will be 20 different optional covers, which includes things like cyber and legal expenses.”

Software houses kept in the loop

Zurich was keen to ensure that the new products would also be available through other digital channels and, after consultation with brokers, decided to initially partner with Acturis with the potential for other software houses to come on-board at a later date.

“We have been speaking to brokers about where they are heading, and many of them want to continue using various software houses,” Tombs says. “Some of them were with Acturis, so we wanted to make sure that all of the policies we are developing as part of this were also available on that platform to support brokers that have made that decision.

“We will look at opportunities for other software houses down the line.”

In addition to providing a better platform for brokers, the new platform is also set to benefit Zurich in a number of ways, but Tombs insists it is about much more than just cutting costs.

“This is not a cost-saving activity for us,” he says. “It is about how we can make sure that we have the right proposition to market, the right service for our brokers and we have the right modern technology that can help support the increase in demand we are seeing for self-service, and also the increase we are seeing for brokers to be using software houses.

“Having a single product that can go out through multiple channels makes it easier for us to promote our proposition. It also enables us to give a consistent service that we can monitor and measure well, because we have a team of underwriters that are trained up and managed and monitored in the right way to be able to deliver a service that we think we need to deliver to our brokers, and it also actually creates a centre of excellence for SME-type risks.”

The insurer is yet to release public targets for the new platform, but is confident that the new platform will be a success.

“SME is an important area for us, we want to be growing in it and we believe we have the right brand proposition, product and claims proposition to be able to support that growth,” Tombs says.

Zurich has recently re-emphasised its commitment to the SME market, announcing in November that Allianz director of SME and corporate partnerships David Martin was joining as the new managing director of its UK retail business.

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