What do broking businesses need from their insurer partners today?

Zurich leader highlights key themes

What do broking businesses need from their insurer partners today?

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

Throughout her 18-year career at Zurich, Jacqui Kelly (pictured) has always prized the power of partnerships in creating a sustainable and healthy insurance market. As head of sales and distribution for Zurich Insurance in the UK, she works closely with distribution partners of all sizes from all across the UK – looking at the who, the what, the why, and the what’s next of these trading partnerships.

Kelly highlighted that Zurich works with a range of distribution models, from MGAs to appointed representatives to brokers – with those brokers ranging from small independent firms to large nationals. What’s interesting, she said, is that despite the differences in their business models, there are some strong underlying themes as to what these businesses want to see from their insurer partners.

The emphasis on insurer service

“A fundamental theme we’re seeing is around service,” Kelly said. “We as insurers have to recognise that the broker is the person facing out to a customer and that there is a customer waiting for an answer at the end of every question. To not service effectively is causing harm not only to the broker but also to the end customer. We have to be there for those people, so service is absolutely the number one consideration.”

There is a service-oriented agenda behind the body of work Zurich has rolled out across the UK in order to meet the challenges the insurer sees facing its broker partners, whether in the SME or mid-market segments.

“We’ve put a lot of work into structuring ourselves in a way that helps us to deliver the service our brokers want from us,” she said. “Key to that is being consistent across our brokers in what we’re doing, whether that’s face-to-face visibility, pipelining, broker planning, and digging into the nuances of what they need… I am proud of the metrics we’ve achieved in terms of quote rates, our strike rates, and our response times.”

The importance of listening and engaging with broker partners

In a market challenged by service, insurance companies must be willing to listen and engage with their broker partners, she said, as it’s only through this feedback that the right solutions can be created.

So what’s next? Kelly highlighted that her team is working from a busy agenda for the year ahead and high on that agenda is developing new initiatives to make it easier for brokers to trade with its SME and mid-market segments. Critical to that is arranging sessions with brokers to talk through these plans to make sure they’re in the loop about what these changes will look like and what they will mean for them.

“It comes back to that theme of ‘what’s next?’,” she said. “We have to take every opportunity to speak with our brokers about where we are and the direction we want to take in terms of driving operational efficiencies across both the SME and mid-market. We need their feedback as to whether this will make things better for them. Then, from that feedback, we can build and develop those solutions.

“What we don’t want to do is build a strategy that we think will be the right thing and then not speak to the people it’s going to impact. It comes back to that listening piece – let’s listen to the people who do this on a day-to-day basis, get their feedback, and build our strategy based on that feedback.”

How to create a sustainable distribution landscape

Kelly emphasised the importance of insurers being committed to supporting the long-term viability of the insurance distribution model as integral to the long-term success of broking businesses. As to whether she feels confident about the future of UK brokers, she affirmed her belief in the power of these businesses to deliver great customer outcomes and a trusted, advisory service.

However, she also emphasised the need for the market to continually evolve in line with the pressures that are facing insurance customers today. The insurance industry, as a whole, needs to understand what’s important to its customers, she said, and brokers need to then consider what that means for the way they do business. What do they need to bring that’s different?

“Brokers are professional bodies, they provide their expertise to customers,” she said. “So how they might change the way they deliver that expertise is probably a key thing they need to think about. And they need to consider what impact that will have on the customer. Likewise, with insurers, we need to think about what customers’ buying behaviours look like, what’s needed for brokers to support that, and how can we support our brokers there.

“I’m absolutely positive about the future of this market and I really want to continue to invest in all our relationships across the board… We have to be able to support our brokers, their teams, and the growth of their businesses and I’m very confident that we can continue to do that. And I don’t think you could look around the market today and not be confident that it’s evolving all the time and will continue to do so.”

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