As insurance companies and brokers aim to keep costs down while producing a tip-top service to consumers, the use of outside providers and outsourcing partnerships has never been so important.

The key, though, is to get it right. Many companies chose to outsource some functions so they can concentrate on core skills - investing huge sums of money and time into ensuring in-house staff are trained to the highest standard. However, this can be futile if the person at the end of the phone is not meeting customers' expectations.

And as claims, sales and marketing - the areas where insurers come in greatest contact with their policyholders - are the most popular to be handed over to a service provider, it is vital to ensure partnerships firms are of top calibre. The choice is certainly out there, with solicitors, loss adjusters and legal expenses companies expanding the range of services they can offer.

Of course there are other services that are critical to ongoing profitability and success, ranging from replacement providers to business continuity specialists and call centre staff.

Even if a company champions an in-sourcing approach, it must, like in every industry, at some time rely on the skills of a service provider.

So taking the time to investigate what innovative companies exist should reap its own rewards.

Alison Boyle
Managing editor