Insurance Times lead researcher Savan Shah discusses some of the emerging themes from this year’s Etrading Insight report with Nick Giddings Proposition Director at software house Open GI.
Nick Giddings leads the strategic product roadmap along with the product and value proposition for the business. He heads up both the Product Management and Marketing & PR functions. Nick has more than 25 years insurance experience and has held a number of senior positions in the broker-facing market.
In 2016 brokers rated the Open GI in the Insurance Times E-trading survey 3.16 out of 5 across a range of service areas*, in 2017 this score has increased to 3.36. What have you been doing over the year that has contributed to improving this score amongst brokers?
Since the report last year, we have added more products, more insurers, more functionality, refreshed the question sets and improved the overall quote and buy journey. The most relevant recent key factor was the relaunch of our CL strategy after we had fully reintegrated PowerPlace back into Open GI. Having a true software house commercial lines Proposition as opposed to the previous standalone PowerPlace model when it was a separate company. This clarity to re-align ourselves to have a true software house model and single brand is hitting home with brokers who are now using their Open GI system to transact eTraded SME product to a greater volume.
The last factor is that the Open GI unlike others have a business development team, individuals who are there for brokers to help them get the best out of the system. We don’t just sell the software, we provide teams that support to brokers within their business.
One of the emerging themes in this year’s Insurance Times Etrading 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 Open GI to brokers?
The technology should augment the relationship the broker has with an insurer, the ability to still speak to an underwriter, in Commercials in particular selecting a “Trade” from a list is often not easy and therefore requites the need to often refer. Speaking to an underwriter is key and brokers can do that through the system or just pick up the phone to their Insurer contact in the normal way.
A theme running throughout many broker comments regarding software houses are that although SWH’s are faster, simple and time saving an insurer extranet may provide cheaper quotes due to there being more questions to answer on an insurer platform. What is Open GI doing to bridge this gap?
When we launched our commercial lines strategy, we got the insurers to come to the broker events with us for them to clarify to brokers that in either going through an extranet or a software house they are accessing the same products. There is a perception that extranets are cheaper, but this is not the case. We are providing the Broker with a panel as opposed to a single insurer, providing the benefit of just keying in information once and not multiple times. The market must be more joined up with insurers and software houses structurally to ensure Brokers have clarification.
Deals: as a broker that may specialise in a niche area, an insurer may have offered a premium override facility to a Broker. Historically the broker would have thought they must do this through the insurer extranet because of a code they can insert to override the premium. The same functionality exists on Open GI, but it comes back to the fact that insurers and software houses must be joined up to give that clarity to brokers.
Software houses are known to be the pioneers of innovative solutions for brokers, are there any innovations set to be introduced you would like to tell brokers about? How will it make their job easier?
We are focusing on delivering solution that provide up to date tools for the way our Brokers engage with their own customers, with innovations and solutions around self-service. So, the customers rather than the broker can interact with their Broker the way they want to, we are working with brokers to add additional options within our online portal solutions so that customers have the full self-service options, from quote and buy, documentation management, renewals and even first notification of loss.
Everything has been refreshed with new features such as device diagnostics, optimisation for mobile journey and we have changed how customers input their information using the latest frameworks and technology.
This year there has been many cases of system crashes, data breaches and hacking amongst many industries in the last few years. With cybercrime expected to rise in the years ahead, how can you reassure Brokers trading through Open GI that their information and systems are protected?
There has been much publicity on software houses system failures recently, we did send out broker communication to reassure our customers during this period . We were the first to take part in the BIBA independent review of software houses passing with flying colours, our resilience is both tested and proven. This area will always be an area of huge investment for Open GI!
Ending on a happy note, what has been your proudest moment whilst being involved in E-trading?
Launching PowerPlace originally as part of Countrywide in 2008 was a proud moment, as was the later re launch in 2014 when we brought back the business to Open GI and redefined the strategy. From a statistics point of view, we recently crossed the milestone of generating more than a million quotes in a 12-month period
On a personal note hearing my daughter Caitlin described as “being a better linguist” than the Head of Language herself at an awards evening is my most recent and proudest moment!