E-Business 2010 - Conference News: Industry is dragging feet on commercial

Matthew Reed of Axa Commercial Lines

SSP director Richard Crocker has accused the insurance industry of dragging its feet on the development of a sophisticated online channel for commercial lines.

He explained that, while a model for business customers to buy insurance on the internet had been in place for many years, it has failed to move forward with the development of new technology.

Mr Crocker said: "The industry hasn't exactly covered itself in glory when expediting the development of e-trading on commercial lines.

"We had an SME model for e-trading in the industry 14 years ago. Since then, the technology has moved forward, but the development in the commercial area has not evolved as quickly as it should have."

Power Place chief executive Matthew Reed, also speaking at the conference, added that the insurance industry needed to develop transparent and consumer-focused online offerings quickly in case other financial service companies stepped in.

Mr Reed said: "I don't think any other industry needs a more seismic shift in the way it does business due to e-trading than insurance.

"What worries me is that we look inwards out. It is a very dangerous thing to do in an industry to presume we know what buyers want to do.

He added: "Transparency is also a concern as it brings with it an enormous amount of responsibility for the insurers.

"We will get to the point where we need to show how much it costs to do business. Transparency doesn't allow us anywhere to hide as an industry, if we don't get there quickly someone else, like Tesco, will show up and do it better."

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