The past six months have been a serious challenge to most business models and no less so the world of the broker. Although the broker model has evolved immensely over the past decade, face to face interaction, advice and continuous prospecting are all still major parts of broker business. Continuous improvement and evolving of the broker model is essential and insurer support goes a long way to staying ahead.
Renasa has taken the honors in the FIA Intermediary Experience Awards, in both Personal and Commercial Lines, for the past few years which makes them a good candidate to talk to for a feel of what supporting the broker really means.
The Broker’s Best Friend is Renasa’s war cry and I had the privilege to chat to Michael Clack, General Manager Business Development, about their strategy to deliver on this. Michael started off by saying that the role of the broker is not single faceted. Solid and sound advice based on strong compliance is the foundation and finding the right markets to insure your clients risk, follows from there. It is far more than just having a nice office and selling products. Good risk selection and technology support are essential for brokers to deliver on their value proposition. Encapsulate this with an environment where every action throughout the whole business and value chain is embedded in a culture of treating customers fairly, and you have a winning formula.
According to Michael, brokers are in business and profitable growth is essential, with the best way to achieve this being to add real value to the client. Clients are always shopping for an improved customer experience. Employee excellence, underpinned with robust processes and a reliable technology backbone is essential to achieve this.
Although clients are looking for the best price, this should always be based on also receiving the best and most appropriate cover. This balance can be achieved with high quality, accurate risk information, which again comes back to the broker having skilled staff.
So where does the insurer come in and what role should it play? For Michael, it starts with an alignment of broker and insurer objectives. Understanding the broker needs, which can be achieved through a personal touch and being available to brokers. This is also why Renasa has not gone the route of using call centers and has built a country-wide branch network. This helps them to understand the needs of the broker.
Backing this is effective insurer systems integration and innovative product lines. Here again, it is important to embrace the diversity of independent broker systems out there and to ensure that the insurer system can integrate with multiple broker systems.
Lastly, Renasa strives for flexibility in approach, making sure the individual needs of different brokers are met, including the varied needs for compliance support. Making decisions on the spot through empowered staff is the way to achieve this. Finally, paying claims is the bottom line in insurance and should be focused on meeting client needs and expectations.
For Michael, this requires a strong broker relationship so that, as an insurer, they in turn can deliver to clients. It then goes without saying that complaint resolution needs to be responsive and should focus on being fast and efficient.
On the question of what he would say are the three main things brokers should focus on, Michael proposed the following:
- Ensuring he/she has trust in his/her products and there is a trusting relationship between the broker and the insurer
- Ensuring client relationships are based on solid advice and risk management
- Ensuring trust between the client and the broker, which depends on clients knowing exactly what they are paying for and what cover they have.
We ended the discussion talking a bit about independence and how brokers can remain independent. Renasa believes independence ensures that the client receives the best advice possible and they achieve this by setting up their system in such a way that brokers can seamlessly continue using their own system, by providing innovative products and by passionately guarding the trust relationship they have with brokers.