How hard has it been to write new business during COVID-19?

How hard has it been to write new business during COVID-19? | Insurance Business New Zealand

How hard has it been to write new business during COVID-19?

Writing new business during lockdown has been tougher than usual, and the focus for most insurance advisers has primarily been on renewals and existing clients - however, other advisers have had some of their best months yet.

Discussing the challenges of keeping a full pipeline over alert levels three and four, FSC members said their primary focus was on taking care of existing clients, and potentially getting referrals from their existing pool of business. However, SwainWoodham Group director Brian Burgess says his younger team has been chasing new business hard, and managed to gain some impressive numbers despite the downturn.

“Our youngest adviser actually had a colossal week during week two of the lockdown,” Burgess said.

“Referrals are still coming in, though that’s not really my personal focus at the moment. There are some top-ups coming in around special events insurance increases, but the priority has really been on existing clients.”

“However, our youngest adviser has been free to just get out there and chase them, and he’s done really well,” he continued.

“From my calls with CEOs I know that there are people who are writing really good numbers at the moment, so we know that can happen. It would be fair to say that everyone has written business throughout this, but not at normal levels, to be sure.”

Share NZ’s Peter Leitch says that he moved away from a model that relied on a constant stream of new business some time ago, so, for him, the reduced activity has not had a strong impact.

“Since 2008, I’ve put my business on to a renewal basis, so it doesn’t really matter whether I do new business or not,” he explained.

“I think you do always need to keep the pipe full, but that hasn’t been the focus for me for many years now. I’m fairly fortunate in that way, and I would encourage others out there to think of their business as a genuine renewal business.

“In terms of going out and continuing to meet people, right now it’s really about existing clients and any referrals I may get from them through continuing to provide an excellent service.”

When it comes to preparing for the next stage of the journey, 9yards Financial Services adviser Jonathan Liong says that many businesses are still getting access to the government’s wage subsidy scheme, which has eased some cashflow pressure for the moment. However, he says cashflow will become a significant issue once again when the wage subsidy’s 12 weeks are up.

“I deal with a lot of business owners, and many are still on the government subsidies and feeling pretty flushed with their cash,” Liong said.

“But as the end starts to become more and more real for people and we start to go back to business as usual, whether or not they can actually get cash from their customers is really going to be key.”

Commenting on the challenges faced by adviser businesses over the past month and a half, Jonathan Winstone of Winstone Partners says that, ultimately, there is still opportunity to be found.

“It’s a difficult time for everybody, but I think it’s also a good opportunity for businesses to take stock of where things sit and place a bit of focus back on insurance,” he said.

“It’s a very hard thing for the economy, but it’s also a good chance to take a look at what we need to do moving forward. I see it as a great opportunity for people and their businesses.”