The number of e-traded policies bought by SMEs and tradespeople rebounded as the country prepared for a relaxation of lockdown, however volumes in some trades are still lower than their pre-pandemic levels.
The number of policies traded on imarket, which connects broker software platforms to insurer systems for the trading of commercial lines insurance, reached a record high in March 2021, with over 49,000 policies written, beating the previous record month of March 2020 by over 5,000 policies.
With 5% growth in the first four months of 2021 491,000 policies have been traded on imarket and it is on track to surpass 500,000 policies in early Q3.
The figures provided by Polaris, who manage imarket, show the resilience of the UK insurance sector through the pandemic and how insurers have been able to effectively support brokers and their customers to continue servicing their insurance policies. April 2020
marked the sharpest drop in volumes in imarket’s history with a 15% reduction compared to the previous year. However, in April 2021 policy count more than regained lost ground and volume grew by 21%.
Property Owner and Tradesman classes made up over two thirds of the overall policy volume in imarket. The figures show that the number of Property Owner policies placed through e-trade platforms continued to grow throughout the pandemic, as demand for cover remained largely unimpacted.
There was more volatility in the Tradesman product when the first lockdown halted the activities of many businesses, causing some to pause their insurances. Volumes continued to mirror restrictions on trade activities and April 2021 showed strong growth as businesses began to trade again.
MINI FLEET ON THE RISE
The more recent products to gain momentum are Commercial Combined and Mini Fleet. While the volumes of these products are lower, average premiums are much higher and the growth in e-trade demonstrates a growing insurer and broker appetite to trade more complex products through this channel. The total number of e-trade policies in force for these classes is now nearly a fifth higher than before the pandemic.
Shop and Salon policies followed a similar, albeit less pronounced, pattern which reflects the ongoing property element of cover. During April and May 2020 volumes dropped by 20% as shops were largely unable to open. Volumes fluctuated after May 2020, reduced during the 2021 lockdown, and showed modest growth in April. However, overall volumes remain lower than pre-pandemic levels and during an ongoing difficult period for the high street.
Matt Doonan, imarket manager commented: “We’ve been pleased to see some growth in a difficult year. These figures demonstrate once again the resilience of the industry in the most challenging of times and highlight not just the essential nature of our products but also operational successes of trading remotely and securely throughout the pandemic.”
“Whilst we are seeing increased broker adoption this year, the more macroeconomic trends of the pandemic, increasing hybrid working models, and the eventual end of furlough, on different sectors of the economy makes it much harder for any of us to predict e-trade volumes, but the indications are positive and we know that automated routes to market have helped support brokers to service their customers insurance policies effectively and economically.”
The analysis by Polaris also shows a growth in brokers renewing clients with the same insurer.
Doonan added: “During the first wave of the pandemic brokers and clients favoured consistency over making major changes to their insurers. This could have been because carriers may have extended cover for premises to allow for longer period of unoccupancy during lockdown. As an industry owned organisation, Polaris would like to thank the broker systems providers, Brokers, and insurers for their continued use of imarket throughout the pandemic, as we jointly continue to support the business community during these difficult times”