Victor Insurance UK’s managing director, John Stephenson speaks to Insurance Times about the challenges ahead for the insurance market and why listening to brokers is key
As UK brokers respond to the 2021 MGA Survey, Insurance Times take the opportunity to speak to MGAs on the current and future challenges they face.
The following Q&A explores the 2021 Insurance Times MGA survey addressing broker concerns surrounding capacity, innovation, underwriting and more.
Here Insurance Times speaks to John Stephenson, managing director at Victor Insurance UK.
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?
The challenges ahead really come in two forms. There are the macro economic challenges and, in particular, the impact that has on SME customers, but also the market challenges, including rate increases, restriction of capacity, and the post-Covid-19 response in terms of what that means for pricing risk and underwriting appetite. In particular, how we can be part of the solution ensuring that we continue to adapt and add value to our broker partners.
In a period that remains quite uncertain, listening to our brokers is key as they are on the front line and understand their customers’ unique needs. As mentioned earlier, our role as an MGA goes back to being there for our brokers and being part of their toolkit to enable them to meet these new challenges.
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?
We are seeing the impact of the reduction in capacity and this is an area where MGAs have an opportunity to develop alternative, sustainable insurance solutions in response. At Victor, we are confident in our ability to manage pricing and risk appetite effectively to smooth out the impact of an uncertain capacity environment.
The role of an MGA is to provide profitable returns for capacity providers. Victor has been able to achieve this with a strong track record over a long period of time. We have developed and maintained long-term relationships with our carrier and broker partners throughout and this has always been at the core of our foundation for success.
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 expectation that we put on ourselves is to provide a wide product proposition that enables our brokers to compete, serve their clients, and grow their business. It is important to us that broker interactions with Victor are as convenient, efficient, and effective as possible. We deliver these experiences through our technical underwriting expertise, advanced digital tools, and flexible service models, all aligned to support brokers according to what they tell us they need. MGA services often go beyond underwriting and binding coverage.
A large portion of our business comes from smaller, independent brokers, who have experienced the added challenge of trying to grow their business in an insurance industry that is rapidly consolidating and becoming digitised, introducing new competitors such as insurtechs. Another way that we support these brokers is by sharing key learnings from our own digital transformation journey.
Our ’Broker of the Future’ initiative, which includes a white paper, online quiz, infographics, and other educational content, is designed to help brokers develop their own paths to embrace digital solutions for their business and drive new growth opportunities. At the end of the day, what is most important to us is what is important to our brokers. Victor is a relatively flat organisation and we encourage brokers to communicate openly with us about their needs and challenges so that we can offer meaningful solutions.
What new developments do you have in store for your broker community across the next 12 months?
Victor is a growth business and our service proposition is a major priority this year. We are currently investing in and transforming our business to improve access and responsiveness for brokers whether it be online or through expansion in our business development and underwriting teams. We also continue to work on product development and adding to our digital platforms. All of these investments are designed to improve the value that we offer brokers and their clients in ways that are compelling and relevant to their needs.
Brokers are coming forward to rate their MGA partners in the 2021 Insurance Times MGA Survey, what do you feel sets your MGA apart from your competitors?
Victor Insurance offers a diverse range of products and capabilities to serve brokers and their clients in the UK. A key focus for us this past year and going forward is to accelerate our broker-centric business model – supporting broker needs and helping them grow by making their experience with Victor as convenient and productive as possible. We also recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
We treat brokers on an individual basis where they can choose how they want to interact with Victor, from a purely transactional relationship across a few product lines to a more strategic and highly engaged relationship.
In a relatively uncertain environment, and increasing capacity challenges in certain business lines, Victor provides a level of long-term consistency in our offering that we believe our brokers and their customers are looking for. We bring a depth of proposition and long term financial security, through our carrier relationships and also being part of the largest managing general underwriter in the world, which we believe sets us apart from competitors in the MGA space.
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?
Looking back over the past 12 months, it was important for us to ensure that we remained fully operational, and that we were there for our brokers and their customers. It was also an opportunity for us to look inward and evaluate how we were performing as an MGA. We learned a lot about ourselves during a period of heightened stress on our ability to conduct normal business. For example, we learned that our colleagues and the business are resilient and we can adapt quickly.
We also were able to find areas where we could improve and really think about how we can set ourselves on a strong path forward, positioning Victor as a leader in service and product offerings in the UK. Victor had a challenging but successful year in 2020 and we are well positioned for continued growth.
With the pandemic still with us to a certain extent, we are eager to be able to get out to see brokers again when it is safe to do so. No matter the environment, we are focused on supporting our brokers and helping them grow.
Please tell our readers why you feel the underwriting process used at your MGA stands out?
Our underwriting process is data-driven and digital-first, and is consistently geared toward utilising the most advanced tools to optimise pricing and our coverage appetite for brokers and their customers.
Whilst we are focused on advancing the broker experience through our digital channels, the data and analytics tools that we use only augment our technical underwriting capability, they don’t replace it.
Combining the benefits of data, digital and underwriting expertise allows Victor to make better risk selection, and provide consistent underwriting terms and competitive pricing, all leading to a sustainable proposition that our brokers can count on.
What was the reaction to the star rating awarded by brokers last year and what impact did it have on your MGA going forward?
We were pleased with the positive feedback received from brokers in the survey and welcomed their input on areas where we could improve. As an organisation, we have taken that on board and integrated it into our development plans going forward. Our success depends on the success of the brokers we work with. We are committed to working with brokers and demonstrating to them in tangible ways how Victor can help them in their business.