Despite the changes seen by our sector over the many years it has been in operation, one thing that has endured is the relationship between insurers and brokers. The partnership between the two has ebbed and flowed, with the advent of the direct-to-consumer model and the rise of aggregators fundamentally changing the nature of the partnership.
The new kid on the block, and something that will be discussed in detail at the upcoming BIBA conference, is insurtech, and the impact of new technology on the relationship between insurers and brokers should not be underestimated.
Making meaningful changes is not easy, especially for a traditional sector, like the insurance industry. However, as the world around us evolves, we must evolve too. Technology has never been more important to insurance business and innovation presents a real opportunity to improve the lives of our customers who increasingly are turning to on-line solutions to help them manage their lives and make their purchases.
InsurTech is a double-edged sword for brokers. There are those that view InsurTech as a threat as it can perform the role a broker in a quicker and slicker way, allowing people to buy cover much in the way they would order a taxi from Uber or pick up a pizza from Hungry House. The perceived wisdom is that this is easier to achieve on less complex, more transactional insurance requirements, but that’s not to say this will always be the case.
On the flip side technology also presents an opportunity. The role of the broker is still the dominant choice for customers, particularly in commercial lines, helping customers to understand their needs and select the best products and propositions to fulfil them. As customers demand better service, more bespoke products and value for money, brokers that embrace technology enabling them to deliver these requirements more efficiently and seamlessly will benefit the most.
For the biggest brokers, embracing changes in the market may not be a problem but intermediaries without the capabilities in this space can lean on their insurance partners for assistance. At AXA, we invest in insurTech via AXA Venture Partners, our capital fund and partner with tech start-ups via AXA Lab, a digital transformation initiative based in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley and Shanghai. Meanwhile, in 2016 we founded Kamet Ventures, an insurTech start-up studio, which acts as incubator for new companies in the sector.
We can collaborate with our brokers to keep them at the cutting edge. By working closely with insurTech companies, we as an industry can fully understand innovation and use it to transform the way we work with our customers.
And insurTech is just one area where we can really collaborate with our broker partners. We are always keen to share best practice and have launched several new whitepapers and Q&As on major regulatory topics such as the Ogden rate and GDPR.
We also want to play a role in developing the future leaders of the insurance sector. We launched the Chartered Insurance Institute accredited Broker Future scheme last year to bring together promising brokers, and industry leaders of tomorrow, from a range of companies to help them prepare for the years ahead.
The insurance sector is going through a crucial period of change, but – as it has done in the past – the relationship between brokers and insurers will endure.
The future for our industry rests on being able to meet the needs of an ever more demanding consumer base, both in the personal lines and commercial space, and by working hand in hand with our broker partners we can continue to thrive together.
About the authors
Laurent Matras – Managing Director of Personal Intermediary & Corporate Partnerships, AXA Insurance
Laurent Matras is well established and respected name within the Insurance Industry. He has worked in UK Insurance for the past 15 years in various positions such as Chief Actuary, Finance Director and Head of Personal Lines. He returned to AXA 3 years ago as Managing Director of AXA’s Personal Lines Intermediary & Corporate Partnership division.
Laurent is responsible for setting and executing the Personal Lines Intermediary & Corporate Partnership strategy with ultimate accountability for underwriting & pricing, distribution and operations.
Jon Walker - Executive Managing Director - Commercial: AXA Insurance
Jon joined AXA in July 2014 as Managing Director of the Commercial Lines Intermediary (CLI) business, having held a number of senior roles in the insurance industry over a 16-year period, predominantly in a Broking environment, including Towergate, Bluefin and bgl Group. Jon is responsible for the development and delivery of AXA CLI's strategy and growth plans across 12 locations and over 700 staff in the UK and was recently promoted to the AXA Insurance Board and UK Executive Committee. LI now totals £1.1bn GWP in size having delivered six consecutive years of profitable growth, making it one of the largest commercial insurers in the UK.
Prior to moving into the insurance industry Jon spent 12 years working for the leading names in the UK Travel market predominantly focused on setting up and running large contact centre environments and key customer facing functions such as complaints handling and 24hr customer help lines.