John Dawson, broker sales director at Markel UK, discusses the insurer’s plans for developing its eTrading platform

John Dawson2

How have you further developed speed of response for brokers over the last year? 

We have been refining our eTrade processes over the last 12 months with enhanced data and workflow. Our primary focus is to improve usability and ease of trading for our broker partners. We are continually reviewing our processes to ensure we respond as quickly as possible. Technology plays a key part of the overall process, balanced with access to decision makers.

We know a key area for brokers is referrals and ensuring we have a quick and efficient process for this has been a priority for us. When a risk falls within appetite, but we need more information, the broker clicks the ‘refer’ button, which generates an email straight into our underwriters’ workflow.

They use a prioritisation model to assess the risk by reviewing what product it is, what trade or activities are taking place, who the broker is and the broker’s business model. Delivery of response is key and we prioritise the referrals to help the broker respond to their client in a timely manner.

The 2024 eTrading Survey also aims to explore how brokers perceive the referrals process for more complex products. How have you developed and improved this eTrade referrals process at Markel? 

Our aim is to have underwriters who are empowered, confident and competent to deal with all referrals and for each referral to be dealt with by just one individual, no matter how complex.

We analyse our data and rules to improve the ease of trading for our brokers and aim to minimise risks we decline. We trade on a few different platforms – Acturis, our own extranet and a number of broker-specific platforms – and look at our experience across all of them to inform our automated decisions to quote, refer or decline. We take best practice and experience from each platform to create consistency across each system, helping us to manage more complex risks efficiently.

Our focus is to provide a quick and efficient response, with as much business as possible going through the system without underwriter intervention for maximum broker/client efficiency. We have an approach of continuous improvement by learning and adapting to ensure we adjust our rules as risks become more complex.

How do you see the eTrading arena developing over the next three years? 

Adoption of eTrade has accelerated as businesses seek to handle clients more efficiently, with advancements in technology and increased collaboration between insurers and brokers.

For Markel, eTrade will become more influential in some of our specialist lines in coming years. This is balanced with the complexity of insurance and the need for underwriting expertise. Technology plays an important role in the overall process by removing unnecessary administrative tasks, but the key is also having access to decision makers for referrals or more complex clients.

As confidence builds in eTrade, we’ve seen the type and size of risk being traded change. Even as little as a year ago, the average premium for a PI combined business was around £1,000. Now, we’re regularly seeing risks priced between £2,500 and £5,000. This trend will only increase in line with broker confidence and insurer capability.

Artificial intelligence and large-language models will help insurers understand and price risks better with fewer questions. This will improve speed of service, ensure customers receive the cover they need and increase insurers’ ability to rate against risk more precisely.

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