Coenraad de Bruin, Head of Specialist Insurance, Hollard Insure
Never before have brokers had greater responsibility for advising their customers. Today’s intermediary has to be an expert business consultant, a risk surveyor, a business adviser, a customer champion and even compliance specialist – to name but a few!
As a broker-focused short-term insurer we sell our products almost exclusively through intermediaries, and we actively promote the expertise and services they provide.
When a customer is given great advice, matched to the right cover at the right price, and the broker is there for them at both policy inception and claim, there will likely be no nasty surprises. That leads to happy, loyal customers, increased retention, and a sustainable business to the benefit of customer, broker and insurer.
All of this is contingent on brokers being the best they can be, and insurers taking the responsibility to support brokers in being just that. What’s good for brokers is good for us; our future fortunes are intertwined. However, there are a few challenges on our doorstep that we will need to consider as we walk this journey together:
- User experience. Digital technologies have evolved. Insurers and brokers need to find new ways to optimise processes, reduce costs and most importantly connect with our customers. Technology has enabled a world of extreme customised and on-demand experiences. Insurers and brokers alike must harness this technology to deliver the customer experience our digitally discerning customers are coming to expect
- Direct distribution. Direct insurance has long been touted as a disruptor of the intermediated insurance model, especially when it comes to Personal Lines insurance. Hollard Insure and our brokers responded to this challenge when we enabled brokers to underwrite business on our behalf in line with the Binder Regulations and under supervision. The result was to essentially create a direct insurance model, giving customers the best of both worlds – the opportunity to benefit from broker advice, experience and access to multiple insurers, as well as the opportunity to get an update on a policy or claim without having to join an insurer’s call centre queue. With many direct insurers now entering commercial lines of insurance, Hollard Insure and our brokers are replicating this model with success
- Emerging risks. Climate change, business dependence on technology and an increasingly litigious society, to name a few, are trends being observed globally. Certain of these challenges create opportunity. There is tremendous potential for insurance brokers in the area of emerging and specialist risks arising from these challenges. Training offered by insurers such as Hollard Insure in specialist and emerging risks could become invaluable to brokers as customers in other, more traditional, segments of insurance may feel more empowered to handle placement of standardised risks themselves
- Analytics. Technology can now provide personalised offers for standardised risks. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a reality as we enter the 5(yes, 5!) industrial revolution. Concerningly, much is written on broker versus AI when it comes to insurance intermediation. We believe the narrative will rather be one of broker embraces AI rather than broker vs AI. Digital interventions such as AI and automation can provide scale and efficiency. Insurance brokers can leverage technology to evolve and capture their experience as on-the-ground experts to a hybrid story of physical and digital to provide speed, accuracy and convenience to their customers. Being able to capture, albeit to a limited extent, a broker’s experience through technology to complement a face-to-face understanding will see brokers become the most crucial cog in the hybrid story of human and artificial intelligence in insurance
Our relationships with our broker partners is a two-way street, and we look forward to walking this journey with them. We also listen carefully to our brokers. In our recent Broker Survey, brokers tell us in no uncertain terms what we’re getting right and what we could improve upon.
For example, in the survey brokers acknowledged high satisfaction with our products, but added that we needed to be more flexible to cater for the unique complexities of each customer’s business. In other words, brokers recommend we move away from our “one-size-fits-all” approach and be more specialist – and they should know, because nobody understands customers as well as they do.
For several years, we ran our #LongLiveTheBroker™ marketing campaign precisely to extol the virtues of intermediated insurance. It’s wound down, but our belief in the expertise and service that only brokers can provide – and the support we offer them – remains unshakeable.