AXA CEO Amanda Blanc: Brokers still key even in digital times | Insurance Business UK
With many insurers investing in digital – such as Aviva revealing a 10-year distribution deal with HSBC bank – you can’t blame brokers for questioning what might lie ahead.
But the intermediated channel is still a mainstay of the industry, and just because the world is going digital doesn’t mean it’s going direct – that’s according to Amanda Blanc, group CEO, AXA UK and Ireland.
Hot off the heels of the announcement of a “resilient” set of results for the first half of the year, Blanc told Insurance Business that the insurer remains committed to brokers.
“Seventy percent (70%) of our business is via brokers, and we’ve got an active broker channel in our Irish business, in our health business and in AXA insurance. So we’re fully dedicated and supportive of the broker channel,” the chief exec explained.
However, in a time where consumers are king thanks to an ultra-competitive market, insurers can’t afford not to listen to what they want.
“[Brokers] are an important channel, but in saying that, we do believe that there is a really big opportunity in the direct space. We have to work with consumer demands, and consumers are saying that that’s what they want,” Blanc admitted.
But a push for digital and towards a slick customer service does not have to exclude brokers, according to the UK chief.
“Digital is not just something that applies to the direct business,” she explained. “We have worked hard on our digital channel in commercial lines, and we really are seeing benefits from that. We’re seeing really good growth in our commercial digital channel for brokers this year, and that built on good growth from last year as well.”
AXA sees digital as being key “to making us more efficient and to being able to grow,” Blanc went on to say, adding that the insurer has been working with brokers this year on an initiative around how they can become more digital too.
“I do think it’s a general expectation that whether it’s via brokers or via the direct channel, people expect to be able to deal digitally. They expect to be able to see their policy online, they expect to be able to make amendments to their policy online, they expect to be able to claim online, and to find out what’s happening with their claim online – and we have to be able to respond to that,” Blanc commented.
“An insurer isn’t any longer just somebody that pays the claim when something bad happens. I think what we now need to be is far more informative to customers around the value we can bring to them to prevent the claim from happening, and when the claim does happen, to work with them to get their business, or their health, or their home back up and running, as quickly as possible. And digital allows us to do that in a big way.”
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