We spoke to industry specialists to cast a light on the opportunities e-trading offers to commercial lines brokers

We asked the industry:

Why is the time right for brokers to embrace e-trading systems?

AXA head of e-commerce Jason Bridgeman: ‘They will write more business’

“We now get more business from brokers who are using the fully integrated systems than those who aren’t and it is a lot easier to transact. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when we do need to speak to brokers directly. There is a real need for insurers to engage with brokers, because there’s a lot of work to be done to understand what their needs and requirements are for an e-world. There seems to be a realisation surrounding e-trading, people have been sceptical, and a lot of people prefer to use extranets. Often it’s the people who have been in the business longer who are a bit more technophobic in some areas.”

Ageas head of commercial Roy Watkinson: ‘The industry is playing catch-up’

“In other areas of business, consumers have been able to buy products at any time they choose using the internet. The great thing about the fully integrated system is that it gives brokers that flexibility. They can place business out of hours and get real-time quotations from insurers for their clients. It’s amazing how much business gets written on a Sunday night.”

Groupama commercial lines director Malcolm Smith: ‘Insurers are developing more e-trading products’

“We expect that in the years ahead brokers will switch to e-trading across the board, because at the moment, for micro SMEs such as tradesman and shop packages, the market already trades electronically to a large extent. We’ve only written that sort of business electronically for the last six or seven years. However, insurers are moving up the food chain and developing more products for mainstream SMEs, such as commercial combined products. With the integration that’s happening at the moment, what that means is the brokers will be able to trade electronically through their back office systems and cut out an awful lot of duplication of work.”

Open GI distribution director David Kelly: ‘The barriers are falling down’

“We’ve found that technology is becoming less of a barrier for brokers and that there’s increased appetite to use these systems. Also, insurers are now seeing the value of having an integrated e-trading environment with software houses, whereas two years ago insurers’ strategies tended to focus on extranets. We’ve now got over 15 business lines with over 20 insurers that are electronically trading on a full-cycle basis, and see the amount of business brokers trade through our system increasing considerably over the next couple of years, so we’re looking to support the brokers in this area and the insurers are engaging with this.”

Broker opinion

Hansen Young Consulting interviewed brokers using fully integrated e-trading systems, and responses included:

“It takes 15 to 20 minutes to process the average renewal, including obtaining as many quotes as we feel appropriate from our e-trading platform”

“A new business case can be completed in 30 minutes. This includes setting up the client details, obtaining quotations and issuing paperwork to the client. A renewal takes about 15 minutes, including obtaining alternative quotations if needed”

“The efficiency of e-trading is staggering. We write considerably more business now with the same number of staff”

“We like the control that e-trading gives us, we don’t have to wait for insurer action”

“It gives us what we want and not just what underwriters want. It gives us control of service for our clients’”

“We have grown our income over 30% without increasing staff and believe we still have room for more growth before needing more staff”

“E-trading significantly reduces double/treble keying of data into extranet sites and reduces the time it takes us to place a risk, allowing us to do more business”