20 years in minibus insurance...
1995. What a year… Amazon sold its first book, Ebay set up shop online, ‘Toy Story’ was the first computer-animated film, Robson & Jerome were topping the pop charts with ‘Unchained Melody’, and PC users were clamouring to get their hands on Windows 95.
It was also the year I attended a job interview that would start my career in minibus insurance. And Christmas just gone has seen me celebrating 20 very happy years with QBE. Speaking of Christmas, we always receive a few jokey enquiries every year to insure a minibus for Father Christmas. After 20 years it still raises a laugh.
I’ve seen plenty of changes in the minibus insurance market over the years. A number of insurers have entered and exited; what is seen as a relatively niche market. QBE is here to stay and after all this time I’m still excited to look ahead to the future of minibus insurance.
Back in my early days we had manual rating guides and a very simplistic rating structure that I soon got to grips with, meaning that I could quote in less than a minute. Nowadays, it’s still about fast quotes, and e-trade is having a huge positive impact on us delivering an efficient service to brokers. We’re seeing more and more brokers wanting to trade minibus electronically on Acturis and our FastFlow extranet. From the broker’s point of view it means they can quote and bind outside of normal office hours and it saves time as there’s no need for proposal forms as it’s all statement of fact based.
Technology is now a vitally important part of the market. Sophisticated pricing tools and anti-fraud measures are now an everyday part of insurance. In the minibus arena we’re also seeing lots of interest around the use of vehicle telematics to help with efficiencies such as reducing fuel and maintenance costs and improving driver behaviour and road safety. In QBE we regularly produce risk management case studies and help guides around topics like this to help brokers provide extra information to their clients. We’ve also produced a free Minibus Operations Handbook which can be downloaded from our website.
So, where do I see minibus insurance heading over the next few years? I think minibus insurance will always remain a niche area, calling for a degree of specialism, though the market will still be very competitive. This means that QBE and other insurers need to work much harder to win and retain business. Whilst brokers and their clients will always want value for money, insurers will be focusing more on the quality of their customer service, along with added-value benefits to brokers and their clients to differentiate themselves.
I’m looking forward to the next 20 years…