GrovesJohnWestrup Private Clients (GJW PC) is open for business. The Munich Re company has today launched its new offering which will provide an accessible, digital platform for insurance intermediaries serving the needs of private clients. Discussing the origins of this offering, GJW PC’s managing director Alex Lay (pictured) said it all began with the realisation that, while Munich Re already provided a range of services to the large & complex private clients space, these were primarily based on providing selective reinsurance capacity.
The opportunity was there for Lay and his team to enter deeper into the distribution value-chain and to bring one amalgamated market-facing high net worth (HNW) solution to the table. The GJW PC team has years of experience in insuring the unique requirements of private clients, he said, and the platform will grow this capability by offering a completely modularised, digital offering to the HNW market.
“What we are doing here is basically bringing a ‘best of’ Munich Re panel of carriers together, all of which are members of the Munich Re group… And what that means for the market is that they are getting 100% Munich Re capacity behind every line of business that we are writing, as well as the specialism that all those entities bring to the market,” he explained. “This is a single, seamless GrovesJohnWestrup Private Clients proposition that brokers can interact with, so the ease of doing business with Munich Re is exceptionally easy now.”
Read more: How can brokers access the HNW sector?
Lay, who took on the role at Munich Re about three years ago to conceptualise and launch the group’s ambition for a HNW business, noted that this offering is hitting the wider market at just the right time. The COVID crisis has accelerated the (re)insurer’s desire to be a digital business, he said, and while GJW PC started as a pre-pandemic project, it is reaching the market at a time when the demand for innovative, digital solutions is higher than ever.
“I think this is the sort of watershed moment that the industry has to go through,” he said. “There will be winners and there will be people that will be struggling. It is the right time to be going into this market with a mature, well thought through digital proposition. I think the HNW business in general, when you compare it to other personal lines businesses in the UK, has been well behind the curve when it came to digital propositions; it is still a fairly manual, low-tech way of underwriting. The emergence of a digital business model, such as the one provided by GJW PC, represents a step-change in how HNW is going to operate in the next couple of years.”
The offering has already undergone several months of soft launch with a selected panel of brokers who responded extremely well to the digital platform, which utilises a modular approach to provide clients with increased flexibility when selecting the right coverage and risk level required. GJW PC underwrites all elements of the policy, he said, and then directly manages each claim through its digital claims platform and a dedicated 24/7 ‘Concierge Service’.
Brokers have taken comfort in the fact that they can get hold of key decision-makers as and when needed, he said, and are relishing the turnaround times made possible by the platform. Lay noted that elemental to the development of GJW PC, has been its determination to balance its digital-first proposition with a focus on personalisation and customer-centricity. Its team has been recruited from individuals with deep personal connections to the market, in recognition of the integral nature of strong intermediary relationships to the success of the business.
“We go into hard launch today, so the testing and learning phase has concluded successfully now. And that resonates with the way Munich Re generally operates: we do not tinker, we do not experiment. When we go out, we do so with a solid proposition,” he said. “Our wonderful panel of brokers has already been on a longer development journey with us, helping us shape and validate the proposition, so we are confident that what we are presenting really resonates with brokers’, and ultimately their clients’, wants and needs.”
The proposition GJW PC has built begins with UK property but it doesn’t end there, Lay said, and within this year the offering will expand to also cover motor and other specialty classes of business. Its broader horizons, however, are essentially limitless as the roots of the project are formed from a conceptualisation of what the entire generalised underwriting process needs to look like, and are not market or product-specific. The team has essentially created a digital sandbox for a multi-carrier, multi-product proposition. With that problem solved, Munich Re can now look to roll this out to wherever bespoke underwriting capabilities are required, particularly in heavily intermediated market segments.
“We wanted to create something extremely relevant for HNW business, but which also creates a technological foundation that can be reutilised across Munich Re group in other areas with the same complexity requirements,” he said. “Then we can use Munich Re assets in other shapes or forms in different markets in the same digital way. And that is the second proof point for me, whether this proposition has more value above and beyond the pure HNW rollout.”