Markel’s sales and marketing director, Nic Brown reflects on the insurers success in the Insurance Times Commercial Lines Five Star Rating Report and how it intends to keep delivering for brokers and customers

Considering Markel’s Five Star result, how will you continue to deliver value to brokers and clients?

Consistency is key. It’s crucial not to lose focus on getting the product and service basics right as this forms the basis of trust between the insurer, broker and end customer.

Nic Brown_Markel

Nic Brown, Markel

When rates increase erratically and insurers pull out of markets unexpectedly, it’s incredibly problematic for brokers and their clients. We’ve seen the difficulties this has caused in the PI market recently. As an industry, we need to promote a positive solution-driven approach for customers, not present them with problems. Markel don’t subscribe to this boom and bust pricing and consistency and sustainability is a key part of our value proposition.

Brokers need to trust their insurers to deliver their end of the insurance promise so it’s also about delivering a consistent level of support.

How do Markel intend on extending discussions with clients so that they go further than speaking about renewals?

Brokers have a fantastic opportunity to broaden discussions with clients and extend into areas of risk for their businesses beyond insurance. By taking a more holistic view of risk management and offering a wider breadth of advice, information and guidance.

SMEs face a wide variety of risk. Poor cash flow can close a company down, the mishandling of an HR issue can lead to a costly tribunal, a one-sided contract can create problems.

Markel UK’s integrated legal and tax propositions allow brokers to extend discussions into these business-critical areas and move the client relationship beyond a commoditised transaction at the point of renewal. This will broaden brokers’ value, improve loyalty and retention, and ultimately drive new revenue streams.

How will Markel keep abreast of changes post-pandemic with brokers and customers?

Predictions are that the UK economy will surge over the next two quarters as we emerge from lockdown. This is fantastic news for individual businesses and livelihoods, and our brokers will share in this opportunity too.

Our network of sales people, underwriters and claims staff maintain close contact with our brokers. This ensures we understand and can react to the sentiment in the market and also helps brokers to understand how we are investing in our relationships with them. Our sector-focused team structure, for instance, is helping brokers build significant books of business in specific industries and we’re upgrading in our eTrade capabilities to improve the breadth and depth of our product offering.

More generally, our NPS survey gives us an independent view of how brokers and customers rate our performance. Our ratings over the last few years have been excellent but we always review the results forensically and never sit on our laurels.

Will Markel’s ways of working change post-pandemic? If so, why? How?

Being awarded five stars in the Insurance Times survey two years in a row demonstrates that we are doing the right things so for us, it is about continuing to offer the quality support our brokers need but also looking to add value at every opportunity.

This is a people business. Brokers want quick and easy access to an underwriter to discuss the complexity of a risk and to speak to a claims handler who is familiar with their case.

We’re also looking to give brokers an edge with products designed for specific sectors that feature specialist underwriting and risk management support, our MarkelTech and MarkelCare products being two examples.

How will Markel support its commercial clients and help the insurance industry build back trust with SMEs after the sector took a reputational hit with the FCA test case?

SMEs are the ‘engine room’ of the UK economy, accounting for 99% of businesses, three-fifths of total employment and half of private sector turnover.

Our ‘Expect More’ promise is central to everything we do at Markel and we work hard to provide the specialist insurance and extended risk management services SMEs need. This includes the provision of tax and legal services, considerations that our own research as has shown to be important to 92% of SMEs.


It’s true that the sector’s reputation suffered over the business interruption case. SMEs are now more likely to be more interested in the detail of their cover and forensic in their questioning at renewal, so transparency will be more important than ever for the industry.

However, not all insurers were involved in the FCA case, nor did they all refuse to pay business interruption claims and by making sure their clients are aware of this, brokers can help build back the industry’s reputation.