Opinion: Co-op Emerges From Its Wilderness Years

Some straight talking from the Editor’s keyboard as the Markerstudy deal draws a line under the long-running decline of Co-op Insurance Services, and helps turn around a potential sleeping giant.

Reading the news recently that CDL’s new Strata software Is now being deployed for new Co-op Insurance home and car customers prompted me to research the background story, tracing the sorry decline of CIS. How was it possible that CIS kept losing money, millions of pounds of it, from 2015 onwards? Why couldn’t someone resolve the bitter dispute with IBM way back in 2015, without an expensive court process?

It baffles me, but there is no doubt that better times are ahead for this ancient insurance brand. The Co-op is perfect for today’s virtue-signalling generation, with a heritage of supporting the poor workers, charities, oppressed trade unionists and the wider developing world. Unlike the Guardian newspaper, the Co-operative movement has NOT got a history of supporting the Confederate South in the US Civil War – it’s virtuous credentials are impeccable! That means the Co-op brand name is highly marketable via social media, all they need are the right brand ambassadors like Marcus Rashford, Jack Monroe or Stormzy.

It is encouraging that Dr Debra Williams has joined the board following the Markerstudy buy. Co-op really needs people at the top with commerical instincts, seasoned and honed in the cauldron of competition that is the insurance comparison market. It’s great to sell your passion for socially good projects and follow a left wing ethos, but the brand needs to make a profit before that cash can be divvied up with good causes, employees and re-invested in new products.

The potential in tenant insurance, illness, compensation claims case cover, electric vehicles and green energy projects is immense. Then there’s the recovering gig industry in 2021, the Co-op could really earn brownie points with Corbynistas by underwriting festivals and gigs. Wealthy rock stars like Bono, Elton, Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran, Lily Allen and many more who espouse woke values will be delighted to form a sort of Lloyd’s syndicate to help the Co-op underwrite such evenst no doubt. Well, we can all dream…

CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS TO MATCH YOUR VALUES

There is one major challenge ahead for the Co-Op. If you read the Trustpilot reviews you see a litany of angry customers, venting their rage at denied claims, poor attitudes by staff members and a general failure to join the dots when it comes to settling claims. It is a complete contrast to the self-congratulatory, feelgood vibes that CIS staff members are sharing on LinkedIn, where everything seems rosy. Obviously no insurance company is perfect – you find complaints all over social media about every insurance company – but a brand like Co-op, with such high-minded idealism at its core, should deal with irate consumers with far more sympathy – and speed of resolution.

The great thing about the Markerstudy underwriting deal is that new technology, new thinking and sheer professionalism will filter through the Co-op insurance brand. Some may feel aggreived that a unionised workplace where profit is not the primary objective may be fundamentally changed by a new culture. Those people who feel that Co-op Insurance should essentially be some sort of NGO, a charity that does good works and offers insurance as a slightly unpleasant sideline have no place in any company. They should leave and join the public sector.

The first function of any private company is to make a profit. The second should be this; deliver the best customer experience possible and reward loyalty.

The Co-op has the heritage and the people there to make it all happen. 2021 will be a year to remember and the brand will become a force to be reckoned with in the UK insurance market, rather than a sleeping giant.

About alastair walker 5409 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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