This year’s Insurance Times Broker Service Survey took its closest look yet at insurer performance, pinning down opinion on everything from documentation wording to claims fairness. Here, we publish the rankings for the commercial lines business, which reveal some interesting insights

Brokers have delivered their verdicts on which insurer offers the best service in commercial lines, and one name stands out. Chubb is the clear winner in 2010. Not only has it topped the headline league table, but it is also the top performer for five of the eight individual performance measure league tables. Last year’s winner, Hiscox, and the joint 2009 runner-up, Arista, have ensured that the top three names in 2010 remain unchanged.

But from this point on, this year’s league table starts to look very different. Ace has moved from joint 14th position in 2009 to fourth in 2010 following a good all-round performance. Fusion has risen three places to the fifth slot. And Ecclesiastical’s four-place improvement has put it into joint sixth position with HCC International.

The number of insurers and underwriting agencies included in this year’s league table was extended from 31 to 37 to reflect new entrants.

This year’s broker survey included several changes. Our research revealed that brokers found some of the service categories they were asked to rate too general, so we increased the number of performance measures from five to eight. Two categories – documentation handling and claims – were split into two and an overall service category was introduced.

As a result, it is now possible to see which insurers were slowest in delivering documentation or settling claims, and which offered clearer wording in their documentation or were more even-handed on claims settlements.

The new category enabled brokers to reflect on their overall experience of insurers and allowed us to compare the overall score with the total score used to produce the headline league table, derived by averaging the individual performance measure scores.

Interestingly, a league table based on ‘overall service’ scores shows differences to the headline total score league table, which indicates that brokers judge some insurers’ service as being better or worse overall than the sum of the parts. In other words, reputations do matter.

We have also recognised that brokers do not represent a homogenous marketplace. Very large brokers with GWP revenues exceeding £75m have a different experience of service from their insurer partners than small brokers generating less than £2.5m GWP a year. Equally, brokers in different parts of the country are better served by some insurers and less so by others.

By using specialised software to help analyse the responses received this year from nearly 700 brokers, we have been able to tease out these differences, and this has thrown up some surprises. For example, CNA, LV= and Travelers achieved a better ranking in the league tables – often significantly so – depending on the GWP segment being served.

And what about the large composite insurers? Does our ability to tease out the service performance experienced by different broker segments change an insurers’ ranking in the league tables? The answer is that it depends on the insurer.

Axa’s low ranking positions moved the least, no matter how they were determined, although brokers have recognised that the company is trying to bring about change. It was voted second most improved insurer.

On the other hand, RSA’s service performance secured it a much higher ranking among very large brokers compared to very small ones.

And we can see that Aviva’s efforts over the past year to re-engage with brokers is paying off. It achieved its highest rankings of the mid-market broker segments, and very positive comments were put forward by brokers on the improvements they have seen. Aviva attracted the highest number of votes by far for being the most improved insurer this year.

As in previous years, brokers have not been slow in coming forward with comments about insurers’ service – both positive and negative. But this year we also asked brokers for their suggestions on how insurers could improve their service. More than 400 suggestions were made, which embraced themes ranging from call centre capabilities, staff training and points of contact.

The ability of insurers’ staff members to do their jobs well drew the most comment, followed by suggestions for improving broker access to insurers. And while numerous suggestions were made about the issue of engagement with brokers, it was interesting to note that a significant number of brokers asked for better use of technology to improve this interaction. IT

To view the table accompanying this research, click on the pdf in related files on the right.