Insurance Times lead researcher Savan Shah discusses some of key themes to emerge from the Insurance Times etrading insight report with Barry O’Neil Home & Legacy’s Managing Director
As Managing Director of Home & Legacy since 2007, Barry has led the company’s transformation to one of the market leaders in high value personal insurance. A Chartered Insurance Broker with over 30 years’ experience, Barry has spent the last 15 years developing his high value insurance expertise in senior management roles. Prior to joining Home & Legacy, Barry was UK General Manager for Marsh Private Clients.
How do you see e-trading developing in the future, for high net worth clients?
For Home & Legacy, our plan for the future is to expand the functionality of our etrade facility, Home & Legacy Online which we launched back in September 2016 with a household product .Expanding the functionality would look to include mid-term adjustments and renewals with an element of self service, so moving to a much broader functionality for a broker. We are also going to be adding more products such as motor. In terms of high net worth, we feel we are ahead of the game in terms of etrading for high net worth, so making it easier for brokers. Our competitors I guess are looking at their own solutions but we are at the leading edge for high net worth clients and we want to keep adding products and functionality to keep that leading edge on the market.
One of the emerging themes in this year’s Insurance Times E-trading report was that, although E-trading has provided huge benefits to brokers, it has to some extent broken down relationships built between broker and insurer. How do you balance the use of technology and the quality of engagement/personable service provided by Home & legacy to brokers?
The home and Legacy on-line model has improved the quality of conversations with the broker because if you look at the way the model works, you have very experienced brokers who know their clients and you have very experienced Home & Legacy staff who will underwrite. Prior to this move, time wasn’t as efficiently managed with a lot of time being spent on administration activities. We have removed the distraction of administration and replaced that time with high quality conversations where you are just talking about the unusual features of the risk. High net worth usually comes with something interesting and all the complexity around it, so what we have done is take away the administration so that staff can use their skills and expertise to have a valuable conversation. We found that brokers like this as it is a good use of their time and it is evident from the increase of usage of the platform.
Many brokers commented on the need for insurers to speed up the referral process as this could be the difference of where cover is placed. What has Home & Legacy Online been doing to speed up the process for brokers?
For us the online part of it, was part of the solution and not the main part of the improvement. We wanted to improve turnaround time and service generally, the online platform allowed us to add another layer to that.
What we looked at was two elements of referrals and turnaround times:
1) The expertise of the people on the front line: spending a lot of time over the last couple of years investing in the skills and expertise of our frontline team and the process of granting underwriting authority limits thereby moving the underwriting authority to the front line to be much higher, giving the team much more authority to make immediate decisions.
2) Increased our team with level 5 underwriters, which is the highest level of authority of underwriting. Growing our headcount steadily throughout the year, bringing a new senior technical underwriter to the team has allowed us to provide that turnaround time capacity.
There is a growing frustration amongst brokers that product selection, service, quotations, deals and question sets differ between extranets and software houses forcing them down a specific route of trading even when using the same insurer. Do you feel these frustrations for brokers will continue or is the gap lessening?
I think this frustration will continue to be there in the context of brokers when they want to access these options, often at times they must go into separate portals which means re-keying information. When we looked at developing our online system, we wanted to find a way that would overcome that. We designed the system so that when we capture the data from the broker they can save all the information they have, put into our system into a blank presentation document, so that they can send that information to other insurers if they want to. Which provides them with not having to re-key the data into other systems, and we are quite confident about our products, price and service. We are confident that brokers can use our systems to generate their presentation, as we are confident we can compete. By giving them the ability to input information on our system and copying that information to send it somewhere else gives them the comfort that they don’t have to repeat the process of re-keying in data.
The reality is unless you integrate the etrading system with the software house then these problems may continue, we work with Acturis and they have developed an online system that works. For Acturis users, our system is fully integrated into the Acturis system and is an integrated offering. So, for Acturis users the data that is already in the system can be integrated straight into our system to access full quote capabilities, so we would like to explore with other software houses how we can achieve a similar level of integration.
Are you introducing any innovations or developments on the Home & Legacy Online platform that brokers should know about?
The key thing is making it full cycle with midterm adjustments and renewals, allowing the broker to go in and gather their own documents, giving more self-service options. Logical stuff but just helping brokers be more efficient. We tagged onto a web chat facility so some brokers who may have a quick question can go on to web chat and find out the information they need quicker!
Key technologies, such as innovations in infrastructure and productivity, online sales applications, advanced analytics, machine learning, automation, robotics and virtual reality, have already begun to disrupt industries and are projected to accelerate in the next 3-5 years. How do you envisage the Home & Legacy Online platform to change in the years ahead and what are your thoughts on these technologies impacting E-trading in general?
These technologies are going to develop from our perspective our clients are very niche, our clients are very complex, very varied lifestyle therefore we feel there will always be a need for a conversation for that kind of client as each person is so different in their needs and scenarios which continue to surprise me!
That complexity is always going to need an interaction with the client in our niche, however with more standard products they will change further down the road and our products could also become automated in some way. We won’t lose the customer interaction and speciality in terms of understanding the risk. We may call on other forms of data to inform us about the client and the risk so there is less need to ask many questions in future. We may get a general picture about the property or risks but what we will never get through artificial intelligence or robots is to know whether the client is at that property every day of the week or only one day a month, it’s that lifestyle stuff that always going to be underwritten.
The way we gather risk information is going to change, so that when the client comes to us we have a better understanding just by the data that is available which we can then build from it.
What has been your proudest moment since being involved in E-trading?
We were pleasantly surprised that although we were confident brokers would like our system and it would be effective, what we never expected was how successful it would be so quickly! I am used to developing lots of technology and they do work but they grow gradually.
We went live in September and the following week the usage has increased and every single week since then its increased. I am proud that we delivered a system to our brokers which just worked and they liked it, from a business perspective we are up 25% on quotes which is great for us and that for me is our customers telling us they like what we have done!
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