Insurance brokers have been encouraged by a key industry figure to look at international business as a chance to demonstrate their value, as Australia's smaller corporates and SMEs expand abroad in greater numbers.
head of international sales and distribution, Kai Dwyer, told Insurance Business
advice on international insurance needs
was one way brokers could 'decommoditise' insurance advice in the current broking market.
"A broker that looks for the right conversation with the customer and is in a position to be able to say, 'If this is how you expect your insurance to respond to your business needs, then this is what I recommend to you', is demonstrating that they understand what those needs are," Dwyer said.
"They are explaining there are different options available, and are making a recommendation on which one might work best. I think that is by definition selling value," he said.
However, Dwyer said brokers need to be sure they ask the customer the right questions at the outset, to ensure they put the right solutions in place for when things do go wrong.
Dwyer said the right questions would include thing such as claims service expectations, including if the client wants someone on the ground to look at the claim and negotiate it, or if a claim should be paid locally.
"Those questions determine what the correct solution is for insuring that business," Dwyer said.
Dwyer said the 'right' international insurance depends very much on who the broker is talking to and who the broker is, though he said the ability for an insurer to respond is 'massively dependent' on geographic footprint.
"There is also the possibility brokers might be choosing to buy insurance on a local Australian master policy only that provides non-admitted cover," Dwyer said.
"We don't necessarily have a view on whether that is the right solution or not, but what we do say is the important thing is to ask the customer about their service expectations," he said.
The good news for brokers involved in the market is that the risks companies face abroad are not necessarily any different to what they are already insuring their clients for in Australia today.
"At the end of the day, the physical risks that your assets are exposed to are no different in one country than another, other than to the extent that natural hazards intervene in a different way," Dwyer said.
"It is more about the complexities of how insurance works in that country, what the regulations are, what the tax obligations are, what the customers are for servicing an insurance contract," he said.
Australian brokers on the whole are 'very good' and understand the international insurance environment can be very complex, Dwyer said.
"In a way, brokers are sometimes dealing with known unknowns; they know that things are different, but they don't necessarily have a lot of clarity around how they are different and what the best advice is."
To read the full interview with Zurich's Kai Dwyer, pick up a copy of Insurance Business issue 3.04, out now!