Attending a roundtable this week on “articulating the value of the broker”, one of the key conclusions resonated with me.
Namely, that the key difference between the broker and a price comparison site, is that the intermediary is selling a promise that if something does go wrong, they will be there to hold the claimant's hand and help them through the process.
Indeed one attendee described them as being the policyholder's friend.
But while the roundtable participants spoke passionately about claims as being a major differentiator, my mind was cast back to May, Manchester and the British Insurance Brokers' Association conference.
And an observation I took home that, despite this being one of the blue ribbon events in the UK insurance calendar - and although most of the large insurers and major brokers were present, I saw very little in the way of senior claims staff when compared to business development directors and other frontline sales staff.
Which begs the question: if the claims promise is such an important part of the broker story, should insurers not send - and brokers demand - more claims representatives?
Or is it simply the fact that when insurers have tried to engage their claims staff, brokers are not interested?
Speaking to an observer affer the event they asked me how important claims was to whether a broker placed business with insurer A, B or C? And how often it outweiged the commission they got.
I have no doubt any self-respecting broker would not place business with an insurer who was well renowned for shoddy service. But given many consumers probably believe they are in for a fight when they have a claim anyway, no broker is going to be accused of mis-selling for placing with any mainstream insurer that is simply "satisfactory".
Which brings me on to the next claims club meeting when we will get to hear what the regulator thinks of claims handling, especially in the broker's heartland of SME business.
Indeed among the key findings were that some claimants complained of delays in the initial visit by loss adjusters; some felt unclear about what actions they should take to minimise disruption to their business; whilst others expressed dissatisfaction about a lack of clarity over who, among the different parties involved in claims handling, was responsible for driving claims outcomes.
Not a resonating seal of approval - and one I am sure some of you might have taken objection too when you saw the conclusions. So it will be interesting to hear from Tim Humphreys, a senior associate at the Financial Conduct Authority on how they conducted the exercise, what other conclusions they came too; and most importantly what both insurers and brokers can do to improve the situation.
So that when brokers are articulating their value in terms of claims service in the future, the policyholder will feel reassured their friend has his or her best insurer mates on board to help them out.
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