On the surface, Rachael Palmer and her husband Richard appear to own the typical insurance broking business. Based on the high street in Clitheroe, Lancashire
, Eden Insurance Services has just four members of staff and focuses on commercial business and personal lines – in Rachael’s words “if you name it, we will insure it.”
Sadly, however, it is these typical businesses that appear to have been stung the hardest by the SSP outage and the ongoing issue of getting brokers back online.
“We have our emails linked up to our phone and we thought ‘we haven’t had any emails this weekend, that’s really strange’,” said Rachael Palmer in an exclusive interview with Insurance Business UK
, recounting the events of the weekend of August 26. “Then we came in on the Tuesday morning after the Bank Holiday and found nothing worked.”
Palmer declares she has “definitely lost business” over the outage and adds that she “doesn’t believe for a second” that 90% of brokers are now back online. However, the most disappointing aspect of this stressful time has been the lack of communication.
“There was nothing on their website straight away,” she said. “It was only when I rang up and asked why I couldn’t log in that I heard a message on their answering service saying there’d been a power outage, ‘we’re working on it and we’ll let you know’.
“At the start you got an email twice a day but they faded out. You ring someone and try and get hold of somebody and you’re waiting 40mins before you get through. I appreciate everyone is trying to ring and get information but those patronising emails from Lawrence are just ridiculous, as is the fact that no-one from SSP has actually called and said ‘we know, we’re sorry, but we’re working on it and you matter’. If I treated my customers the way that I have been treated by SSP I wouldn’t have any customers.”
For Palmer, however, the problems with SSP far outdate the recent outage. Eden Insurance made the switch to the Pure system several years ago and she points to a host of problems ever since.
“For the first 12 months it was an absolute nightmare,” she said.
“Nothing worked, essentially. I’ve had people from Premium Credit ringing me and asking me how to do something on the SSP system.
“The finance integration didn’t work, it’s so complicated to set up your own risk screens, and unless you know how to do double entry book-keeping it’s very complicated to manage accounts. I do all my accounts manually – I wouldn’t want SSP to have control of that.”
Palmer believes that SSP’s focus is on larger brokers and that there is a lack of support for companies like her own that are smaller and work on the high street.
“They were angling things towards companies like Swinton
,” she said. “I don’t know if Swinton
are still on the system, but as an example if they wanted something they would get it and there were no conversations with brokers like ‘how would you feel about this if we changed it from A to B’. We are not the ones giving them vast quantities of money at the end of the month.
“We once got an email from Premium Credit saying SSP are increasing your rates by 0.25% - SSP didn’t tell me that. So if we used the integrated system we were going to get charged more. So we said forget that, we’ll just do it with the finance house so we don’t get charged the difference. Everywhere they’re trying to cut down – even having to pay for registration look-ups for vehicles and postcodes and things like that is just obscene in my mind.
“They are not doing anything to support local brokers or to make the system more user-friendly.”
Despite this, Palmer plans to stay with SSP pointing to the difficulties with the migration of data, the overall cost and the problems with training staff on a new system as the reasons to stick with “the devil you know”.
However, she firmly believes that SSP needs to take action to ensure that brokers are compensated for what has happened over the last month as she is still unable to fully access her system even though she can now get into client records again.
“As an absolute minimum there should be no charge at all for September,” she said. “But they have to do more than that. I could try to put a monetary value on the business I have lost – but it’s so hard to do.
“Certainly though, they have to be in with the FCA and taking absolute responsibility so there is no comeback on brokers.”
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