There are plenty of messages about the need for brokers to upgrade their technology and ensure they’re able to keep up with insurance’s digital age. However, most of those giving advice are the major insurers who have the cash to splash on ensuring their platforms are at the cutting edge and don’t necessarily have to be too concerned with the cost implications.
For the average regional broker, financial concerns are more prevalent. However, Gary Humphreys, group underwriting director at Markerstudy
, believes that brokers don’t have to go it alone.
“One of the biggest challenges facing brokers today is on the technology front,” he said. “We’re seeing a move towards sophisticated digital journeys and this is especially challenging for brokers that rely on software houses that are perhaps not at the cutting edge of this technology which puts the brokers in a vulnerable position.
“However, they can get help from their insurance partners.”
According to Humphreys, insurers need brokers to be up to speed to create a win-win in their business relationship and that means that they are often willing to provide the platforms needed for brokers to prosper.
“Brokers need support from their insurance partners in terms of access to digital technology or they need to ensure that their software houses are investing in the front end of the digital journey because the younger market is moving in that direction at quite a pace,” he said.
“Our plan is to have a digital platform that brokers will be able to utilise and access on an almost white label basis that provides all of the platforms that they need. All it would need is the right sort of technology embedded with our systems which we have with the major software houses already. So the next level of that will be enabling a front-end to the online digital journey quotation – self-service adjustment and self-service claims will be a natural extension of that.
“From a cost and maintenance perspective we couldn’t make that available to 1,000s of brokers but for key partners in the business it would justify the spend to do it.”
It won’t be a case of brokers needing multiple hubs with multiple insurers either – on the contrary, they should be able to access all the information they need in one place.
“I think most of the hubs that have been built already by some of the big names in the industry have been built on the basis that they can be linked externally with most platforms,” continued Humphreys. “They have to be that flexible because of the huge number of broker software houses in the market. So it won’t be difficult to ensure that each insurer can only access its own data.
“I know the software houses we work with are already looking at how they can deliver these solutions.”
However, just how far do brokers need to go with their technological push? According to Humphreys the extent of your investment will largely depend on where your focus is.
“If you’re going to be a predominantly motor oriented personal lines broker then you absolutely have to embrace the technology because that’s the way the world is going – especially with changes in the market like autonomous cars and so on,” he said. “You’ve got to have the flexibility.
“But if you’re heavily service based, people come into your office and you’re offering a wide range of insurance advice, then that digital platform is maybe less important because people aren’t going to be led down the path of self service and not speaking to advisors.”
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