Kristian Bartlett, head of sales and marketing for Commercial Express tells Insurance Times’s head of research, Savan Shah about the new developments for the broker community, after achieving four stars from brokers in last year’s MGA survey
As UK brokers respond to the 2021 MGA Survey, Insurance Times speaks to MGAs on the current and future challenges they face.
Here, Insurance Times speaks to Kristian Bartlett, head of sales and marketing at Commercial Express.
In the MGA survey brokers will be expressing their concerns and challenges for the year ahead. What are your concerns and challenges in the year ahead and how do you aim to alleviate these challenges?
From our perspective, we need to ‘de-risk’ our panel of insurance providers. But this I mean, we cannot afford to place too much business with one provider. We continue to look for additional capacity providers to join our panel and thereby increase competition and reduce the level of risk exposure.
Insurers are constantly changing their strategy and we need to be in a position to have options available to us if something was to happen to a particular provider. One of key objectives for 2021 is to reduce the percentage of business to our main carrier by introducing and developing new trading relationships.
There are concerns of the potential scenario of the reduction or removal of capacity from an MGA. Should brokers have this concern whilst working with your MGA?
No more so than working with a composite insurer, performance and profitability is key for all. Brokers should be reassured, if they’re dealing with a MGA in the current market, then that MGA has satisfied their capacity providers on a number of levels.
Most importantly, their book is running at an underwriting profit, the MGA is pro-active, can demonstrate excellent management information and has robust product governance processes in place. All of these factors, mean the broker is dealing with an MGA that has an excellent product, which is competitive and bespoke to the market in some way.
We are in the final few days of the 2021 MGA Survey and brokers are coming forward to rate their MGA partners, what do you feel sets your MGA apart from your competitors?
Since the pandemic hit, Commercial Express has gone from strength to strength. Our service driven culture backed by a market leading IT platform means we are able to react quickly and efficiently to our brokers needs.
We are constantly looking to improve our product offering and at the same time improve the online experience for our brokers. We have invested heavily in learning and development, either of our own people or what is available to our brokers and thereby ensuring we add great added value to the Commercial Express proposition.
Our team of underwriters and account managers ensure there is a constant, seamless message being delivered to our brokers. We have no ambition to increase the number of brokers that use Commercial Express, instead we want to work closer with our existing partners to deliver something that is bespoke to the UK insurance market.
The 2021 MGA survey aims to investigate the service levels of MGAs over the last 12 months, please tell us about the last 12 months at your MGA? How has your MGA adapted to the challenges faced over the last 12 months?
The last 12 months has asked operational questions of all our businesses. The ability to work long-term from home effectively implementing a disaster recovery plan testing our IT and telephone capabilities. Communication with brokers and insurance partners remained a top priority, with record high outbound calls and call abandon rates lower than they were pre pandemic. It’s fair to say we learned a lot about our business and our people during these times. Commercial Express has had a strong year, achieving growth, successful product launches but most of all developing and improving relationships with our broker partners.
Whilst many insurers and MGA’s struggled to provide any kind of service, due to our infrastructure we not only operated as if it was business as usual but we increased the level contact with our brokers. Our team of account managers, worked tirelessly to promote the Commercial Express message and this culminated in record levels of quote activity in the final quarter of 2020 and an unprecedented number of new broker applications wishing to join Commercial Express. Our underwriting team, performed an incredible job in maintaining the service standards that we set pre-lockdown.
Please tell our readers why you feel the underwriting process used at your MGA stands out?
Our underwriting proposition is a combination of demonstrating our underwriters knowledge, commercial awareness and ability to deliver in a timely manner. Because of the nature of our products, 60% of all enquiries lead to a referral, the referral must be handled promptly but at the same time educate the broker on our underwriting philosophy.
Our in house Service Level Agreement, mean we attempt to turn referrals round within 60 minutes but what is vital is the fact the broker receives a first class experience with Commercial Express. During the pandemic, we have been very successful because we’ve been so accessible to our brokers either through the efforts of our underwriting team or our account managers.
The quality of support provided to brokers was a major factor for why certain insurers performed well and not so well in the Insurance Times commercial lines survey. Please tell us in more detail what brokers can expect from your MGA when it comes to quality of support?
The level support post covid has resulted in much closer working relationships with our brokers. Our account managers now interact on a much more frequent basis resulting in a greater understanding of the brokers business and in turn, our proposition. We have prompted a joined up seamless approach from both our account managers and underwriting staff, which has benefited the broker massively.
This can be measured by the success of our new business opportunities for the last 12 months and the number of scheme opportunities presented to us. During the pandemic, we took the opportunity to increase the level of training provided to our underwriters, the result means we have a record number of underwriters with multi class licences. The benefits of which are now being felt by our brokers at new business and renewal stage.
What new developments do you have in store for your broker community across the next 12 months?
We are entering a very exciting period of development for Commercial Express and our brokers. We have just launched a new catering van scheme in additional to a Terrorism add on offering. Other new products due for release include excess of loss, touring caravan, liability schemes:per capita and wages and turnover.
Our strategy is not so much to introduce new lines of business but instead add alternative insurers to current schemes and thereby create competition from within the panel. In addition, we are working on developing a wider distribution model which will meet the demands of our broker partners and their clients.
If your MGA took part in last years survey, please answer the following question. What was the reaction to the star rating awarded by brokers and what impact did it have on your MGA going forward?
Because we only achieved four stars, we took the decision not to promote the award. This year, we’ve really concentrated our efforts on getting the final star. If successful, we have a promotional campaign ready to tell the UK insurance market of this amazing achievement.