Insurers and brokers need to cut costs and improve customer service by developing their e-business opportunities, Zurich Commercial's managing director Peter Burrows has said.

The main advantages e-business offered customers was lower costs and “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” access, he said.

Burrows said the industry believed that customers were not ready to adopt e-business approaches, but Zurich's research indicated that 71% of small to medium-sized companies had computers and 66% had access to the internet.

“Furthermore, 62% of those who use the web believe it will bring major benefits to their business and four out of ten believe it already has,” Burrows said.

He added that, to ensure a successful e-business approach, companies had to look at ease of access to the site, navigation through the site, the level of customer service offered and the format.

However, Burrows warned that a badly thought-out e-business strategy could do a company more harm than good.

“It's imperative that insurers and brokers spend time developing their e-business propositions to ensure that they are robust and portray the right image,” he said.

“It's been estimated that the majority of people abort trying to buy anything online because the functionalities for smooth transactions are not there.

“This is incredibly damaging and the companies in question may have lost these customers and prospects for good.”