For those commercial lines brokers looking to bank in on their status, things have never been so good. Whether it be consolidators, large brokers or insurers wanting to do a deal, commercial lines brokers are in big demand.
Few acquisitions can surpass the purchase earlier this year of Smart & Cook, Stuart Alexander and Layton Blackham by AXA. Not surprisingly, each of the men behind these broker firms think it is a good deal. But they also highlight it also has benefits for clients and stakeholders while arguing they can maintain their independence. Where this acquisition trend will end up is anybody’s guess.
Fraud is forever part of the insurance process and this is as true within commercial lines. The ABI has produced research showing that commercial lines fraud costs £550m a year. As a percentage of the overall book of business it is more costly than personal lines.
The industry, thanks to the Insurance Fraud Bureau, is tackling this head on. But help is needed to actually prosecute fraudsters, sending out a message that police are willing to deal with fraud seriously enough. Unfortunately this has been lacking, but signs are this is changing.
David Cooper has shown with his London Property Owners team at Allianz Insurance that the property market is a good place to be. His own story of jumping insurer ships make fascinating reading (page 6). But the commercial lines market overall remains soft, with some predicting this will remain the case until 2009.
And on the technology front, after its launch back in 2004, imarket seems to be finally bedding in to be the commercial lines portal for brokers, at least for some smaller type of business.
As one market player states here, it has been a long investment and struggle.
Not before time will add critics. But at the same time, possibly too much spotlight has been put on imarket, and it should be seen as just one of many mulitiple technology led routes to market.