Managing director believes ‘a perfect storm’ of factors has impacted insurers’ service for their broker partners – however, the situation is ‘getting into a better place’

Scott Bennett, managing director of Bravo Networks – which consists of Broker Network and Compass – believes that “service, service, service” from insurers for brokers is still a key challenge for regional brokers this year.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Bennett explained that there has been “a perfect storm” of factors that have influenced insurers’ service for brokers following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scott Bennett

Scott Bennett

In particular, he blamed “recruitment issues”, “a lot of changes in staff” and “hybrid working” as the main drivers of poor service from insurers.

He said: “Coming out of Covid, [hybrid working] has affected [insurers’ service for brokers].

“If you can get to the right person first time and get an answer, whether that answer is yes or no, then that’s the efficiency that we need to get to.

“If we’re leaving voicemail messages, sending emails, WhatsApping people - that’s just so inefficient to get one answer.”

However, Bennett does feel that the picture around service is improving – albeit slowly.

“I think we are getting into a better place,” he said. “I don’t think it’s totally fixed, but I think we’re getting into a better place. It’s how we can get to the decision-makers quicker.”

Opportunities for regional brokers

Despite poor insurer service being a potential roadblock for regional brokers, Bennett predicted that this demographic can still target growth in 2023 because they are “fleet of foot” and “out servicing” broker rivals.

He explained: “They deliver great service to their clients and they’re picking up business and winning business on the back of the service that they offer.

“They can go in and see a new client or a new prospect who hasn’t seen their account executive for 18, 20 months. Our members will go and see them - they’ll over service clients, pick them up and win them.

“They’re not out broking the holding broker – they are actually out servicing them.”

One area that Bravo Networks’ broker members are particularly focused on, for example, is addressing underinsurance.

Bravo Networks ran a webinar on the impact of underinsurance in February 2023, which was attended by around 540 broker members – the network organisation has around 640 members in total.

“The underinsurance piece is massive,” Bennett said. “Brokers take it really seriously.

“They want to look after their clients in the right way. They understand the cost of living crisis and [the] inflationary pressures that are there. But ultimately, [business clients need] to be covered and protected.

“Underinsurance is a massive thing that we need to try and correct. I know insurers want to try and tackle it as well.”

Bennett added that the main role of brokers in mitigating underinsurance is “to educate the clients”.

He continued: “Our members are really good at being that trusted advisor to their clients, to tell them what is necessary and what isn’t necessary.”

Bennett believes that more commercial clients are agreeing that insurance is a necessary business cost rather than a grudge purchase – although he is “seeing more clients using premium finance” in a bid to maintain insurance cover while battling cost of living constraints.

“Those bigger cases that previously may have been paid out of cash flow are now going on to a scheduled finance plan,” he explained.

Joining the dots for eTraded risks

A further opportunity for regional brokers is centred around eTrading, Bennett continued, with brokers acting as “an interpreter and a translator of risk from their client” to the insurer.

He said: “ETrading is a good facility if it’s a fairly standard risk. But clients are having to diversify to survive. So, they’re not just a florist anymore. They’re a florist with a couple of chairs and a coffee machine - are they a cafe or a florist?

“Well, that [risk] doesn’t fit eTrade – you need to have a conversation with somebody. The broker, for me, is an interpreter and a translator of risk from their client.

“Clients are having to diversify to survive – will eTrade be able to cope with that diversity? I’m not too sure. But I think it’s an enabler.”