The Rise of The No-Office Insurance Broker

Do brokers still need an office? That’s the beer-mat idea we had a few weeks ago and it’s worth pursuing, because yeah, the technology is all around us to connect with policyholders using a multiplicity of channels. Then there’s the eco-system of product development, pricing, admin and claims processing, all on one platform. Thing is, if stuff works smoothly, then does it matter where the HQ is located? Maybe a mix of remote teams, meeting hubs and Teams calls can get the job done? IE tested the water.

INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION, PLUS APPS

Leon Stafford, UK Country Manager, at Digital Workforce, offered these insights: “Experience is everything in business today, and insurance is no different. Customers want fast, easy service which delivers what they want, through a channel they’re comfortable with. More and more people do not want to ring up and spend half an hour on the phone; they want to put some information into a digital form, review some potential offers, and purchase, all by tapping a screen.  Should they need to pivot to a customer service representative, then they naturally expect all of this data to be available on another contact channel.

Some providers get it. One group in particular provides its customers with an app which has access to all the relevant data the group holds on that individual, irrespective of which business unit the information sits in. The customer can review multiple policies, add additional services and receive tailored offers, increasing the likelihood of a sale and growing share of wallet.  

The benefits of aggregating information in this way can be achieved through Intelligent Automation. Intelligent Automation can collate data from both legacy and new platforms in order to present it to customers on digital channels. This is not a case of robots stealing jobs – human agents are of great value when contacted, but they have moved up the value chain from a customer perspective. By combining Intelligent Automation for the quick, repetitive work and human resource for connecting and building relationships, insurance providers can deliver tailored experiences at scale.”

START-UPS HAVE A CLEAN SHEET

John Garrard at Wrapper Insure

A long established brokerage may well have secured a five year lease on office space, so they are locked into that deal. But a start-up has a clean sheet of paper and that gives them unique choices right now. One new 100% digital broker is Manchester based Wrapper Insure, started by ex-Fish MD John Garrard.

Wrapper is focused on the caravan, gap and micro-mobility sectors and much of that market segment is already online in terms of product distribution. Despite the common perception being that caravan owners are an older demographic, less used to shopping online, John spotted right from the start of Wrapper in 2021 that they are as savvy as millennials;

Smartphones are easy to use for any age group and features like online chatbox Help has been very effective for us in closing deals. People want their questions answered quickly nowadays and if you can deliver that knowledge online then that beats a physical office hands down.”

TEAM BUILDING IS MORE THAN DRESS DOWN FRIDAYS

But what about the tricky matter of building team spirit as you launch and develop a new brand? At Wrapper the aim was always to make people feel they were part of a close-knit team, yet still had the freedom to schedule their own working week.

Having no office is a big saving in overheads, plus it saves staff the expense of commuting too,” notes John Garrard, adding,

That’s not to say we don’t enjoy meeting face-to-face and team-building and developing our relationships, these are incredibly important as we build our brand and culture, but its more cost effective to do that together in a hired space. Our traditional office space is now a hub and a place where we can work if we chose to.

The way in which people expect to work has fundamentally changed – from a talent acquisition and retention perspective people want the freedom and trust to do their job well. Our hybrid model and work anywhere ethos will be crucial as our workforce grows.”

THE DATA GIVES YOU FREEDOM TO PRICE, UPDATE & PROCESS CLAIMS

 Roly O’Neil at Cazoo Data Services had these thoughts;

“As businesses have moved into a more remote and mobile way of working it is essential that all teams and roles can have the same access and functionality wherever they are based or however they want to work. Being able to feed pricing, risk analysis or underwriting data directly into quote platforms or a digital customer journey has become a need.

Cazoo Data Services cloud-based solutions can provide vehicle specific insights in real-time, these can be integrated into a broker’s software wherever based, or if access is required through a portal/SaaS platform our Companion tool allows the user to look at the lifetime data of a single specific vehicle (MOT, Keeper Changes, Modifications etc). Either way Cazoo Data Services can provide this data on a whenever and wherever basis. Our multi access approach to data allows anyone within a brokerage to utilise the benefits of our insights. Whether that be for better pricing, fraud indication or to further streamline claims settlements.”

RECRUITER VIEW: BAIN & GRAY

London-based, executive support recruiter Bain and Gray, says that 90% of client workforces are now returning to the office for at least 3 or 4 days a week. Companies need to ensure that in-situ training is re-established to maximise staff retention and evolution within an organisation.

A survey at the end of 2021 highlighted the views of support staff on remote versus office working. The respondents were experienced executive support staff – commanding salaries upwards of £45,000 per annum – who worked remotely for brokers and other city institutions during the pandemic. Of note:

·       41% reported being more productive working from home, while a third said there had been no change to their performance.  20% found home-working to be less effective for their day-to-day roles

·       Almost half (47%) think it is essential for executive support staff to be physically present in the office at the same time as their boss or team.

CONCLUSION

For bigger brokers there probably is a need for an office, especially when you have an umbrella of different brands within your group. But there is a freedom through technology now for smaller, independent brokers, a new hybrid model that can be customised according to your market specialty.

Automated systems can deal with the vast majority of your admin. There are product building specialists who can help you spot new trends and bring a product to market within days, not months. The opportunity to grow fast and build an online broker brand has never been such a level playing field.

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About alastair walker 9648 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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