Last week, Royal & SunAlliance announced it was opening a new “open door” underwriting office in Leeds. Brokers will be able to walk in off the street to speak to an underwriter. Natasha Lavattiata asked four brokers whether it was a good idea.
Grant Ellis, chief executive of Broker Network, said: “It’s a step in the right direction. There are lots of brokers in and around Leeds. It’s something Broker Network has been promoting for as long as I can remember. It’s the way business has always been done. Forming relationships has long term benefits for all parties.”
Terry Stanley, sales and marketing manager at Broker Direct, said: “You hear a lot of brokers complaining that they never reach the decision-makers or underwriters in charge. But advances in electronic trading means changes to client accounts, for example, can be done far more efficiently. You could waste half a day getting to the Leeds branch and waiting in the queue.”
Steve Smith, regional director at Giles Insurance Brokers, said: “As part of a network, we used to be given one-hour slots with an underwriter every month at various branches. But after a while they died a death. When you bring five or six cases to be covered in one hour – and sometimes the underwriter lacked authority level – it was too time-consuming.”
Chris Blackham, chief executive of Layton Blackham, said: “Anything which promotes face-to-face contact, where underwriters and brokers get direct access, gets my vote every time. But I’m not so sure if it’s something new. Brokers can go into most regional insurer offices already.”