The vast majority of UK businesses have felt the impact of the lockdown restrictions implemented back in March. Some firms have been forced to scale back in order to survive, while others have been unable to trade at all.
Among the companies able to continue providing a service, the lockdown has spurred a fundamental shift in the way they work. Entire teams that would typically be office-based have been working remotely from home, as part of a nationwide effort to keep the risk of Covid-19 infection as low as possible.
The impact on brokers
Insurance brokers are one of the many professions impacted by the lockdown. As an Insurance Age article acknowledges, all have had to adapt quickly in order to overcome significant challenges to operations.
A survey jointly carried out by the publication found that most brokers have set-up offices from home since lockdown came into force, with 88% working remotely on a full-time basis. Only 6% admitted to working full-time in the office, while the remaining 6% switched between the two.
While many individual broker firms felt the transition to home working was managed effectively, commonly cited issues included the availability of the right technology – especially laptops, due to the spike in demand after lockdown was announced. Security and remote access of certain applications also proved a challenge.
However, brokers were quick to adapt and the survey concluded: ‘In general, these logistics issues were quickly dealt with and brokers proved in their droves that when needed they could take their work home with them and keep servicing clients effectively.’
What should brokers be doing now and moving forward?
By now, brokers and their clients have become used to digital-only interactions, perhaps taking place on a less frequent basis.
Capgemini and Efma’s World Insurance Report 2020, shared by Insurance Business, revealed a trend for customers conducting their own independent research, primarily on digital channels. Whereas the insurance sector would typically separate the ‘digital’ and ‘conventional’ markets, the two have now seemingly merged.
The report suggests that a digital mind-set means brokers must focus on three key aspects of business in the “new normal”. First, brokers need to be prepared to deal with clients armed with their own online research. Secondly brokers must utilise digital tools in the customer journey such as personalisation and form data prefilled from CRM systems. Finally, the report concludes that brokers must consider their ‘digital store fronts’, making sure they are updated and linked with markets to inspire seamless and efficient communication.
A blog by legal firm Dac Beachcroft adds to the advice for brokers, saying they should:
- Acknowledge the renewals process, including collating and providing information, could take longer due to the current circumstances, and consider short cover extensions.
- Ensure policyholders are aware of onerous or unusual conditions and inform them of alterations in policy terms at renewal, especially in relation to Covid19-related exclusions.
- Consider whether certain cover types are more relevant due to the pandemic, such as cyber cover as a result of the increase in cyber attacks.
The FCA notes that, during these uncertain times, brokers ‘have a key role to play to help consumers understand the market, the impact of coronavirus, and search the market for products that meet their demands and needs.’
How Stride Underwriting is supporting brokers in the ‘new normal’
Stride Underwriting is ideally placed to support brokers in the “new normal”. Account Manager Lee Taylor said of the current situation:
“A lot of businesses are hurting right now, but brokers have always adapted to market conditions and Stride Underwriting is here to support them to survive and thrive. Firstly, we work with brokers in the way that works for them, we’ll quote for risks presented in any format and take care of documentation. Our main strength is our flexibility, we can bespoke cover and negotiate with insurers on the brokers behalf – whatever it takes to get their client over the line. We want to take the pain away from brokers so they can concentrate on meeting their clients’ needs, so every account has a dedicated account handler and we can manage claims in-house if required.”
Stride Underwriting Commercial Manager Claire Harris added:
“Our message to brokers is simple – we put the broker first, so tell us what you need to win and retain business. There can be too much of a “computer says no” attitude in our industry, but Stride brokers have direct access to our underwriters to get the job done. We have a panel of ‘A’ rated insurers plus our own MGA and that gives us a wide appetite for specialist or complex property risks whether commercial or residential. We’ve got nearly 50 years’ experience in the Property Owners market, so in the words of one our brokers, ‘if you haven’t got an agency with Stride, you’re missing out!’