This piece is by Jamie McCann, Partnerships Director, BGL Insurance and looks at the value of insurance partnerships when developing your brand in the market.
In the wake of the FCA’s Market Study into General Insurance Pricing Practices, providers are now settling into a somewhat ‘new normal’ across much of the personal line’s insurance market. This change, coupled with a post-pandemic environment, steep rises in inflation and a general cost-of-living squeeze, suggests a turbulent time for the industry lies ahead. BGL Insurance is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2022 and having experienced its own share of change during that time, Jamie McCann, Partnerships Director at BGL Insurance, shares his reflections on the journey and why insurance partnerships remain a vital piece in the evolving insurance landscape.
30 years is certainly an important milestone for any business and a key part of BGL Insurance’s growth story has been in understanding, developing, and delivering highly successful insurance partnerships with some of the UK’s major financial services and retail brands. There have been highs and lows as we’ve navigated and learned lessons in an industry that was historically not known for its agility, leading edge technology or product innovation. Reflecting on that time, I’m extremely proud that the central, consistent theme has been developing the very best customer products and experiences, underpinned by a strong focus on collaboration with our partners.
Clearly, customer and brand requirements have shifted considerably over the years but, in our experience, the ingredients for a successful partnership remain constant and, arguably, have become more important in a market with potentially less reliance on price comparison as its main distribution channel.
It goes without saying that having a brand that resonates with customers and is highly trusted, is a critical success factor. But that’s not enough on its own. The brand needs to translate to financial services and make sense in the online, digital world that we now live in. There are many great brands out there, but not every brand is able to do this well.
In addition to having a great brand, an existing customer base of some scale is a significant advantage. It lowers acquisition costs, provides a much faster route to value and encourages a more targeted, customer-centric proposition development strategy, right from the get-go.
We see more and more evidence of customers seeking to buy insurance from a brand that they already have an affinity with. Perhaps using price comparison sites as a benchmarking exercise during this process, rather than as the primary buying tool. Having a captive audience that engages with your app or website on a regular basis, is an important distribution opportunity. This concept of ‘embedded insurance’ is an important area of focus within the industry and, helpfully, it’s an area that BGL Insurance has many years of experience in. Embedded insurance is about offering competitive, relevant and personalised insurance to customers when they need it the most, ideally through a channel that they are already familiar with and regular users of. Technology then enables any third-party provider to integrate insurance products into its existing purchase journeys, offering customers choice and increasing brand loyalty in the process. We see this as a significant opportunity for businesses and consumers alike.
The ability to differentiate the proposition in a crowded marketplace is an important feature of the most successful ventures, and often being able to access and leverage unique customer data is a great way of achieving this. Being able to effectively utilise insight already held on customers to provide them with additional and highly personalised benefits, will only boost loyalty. To further help our partners with this, BGL Insurance invested in a specialist team, dedicated to extracting value from all manner of databases and then using this to benefit customers, in real time, as they pass through the quotation process.
Insurance often needs to coexist alongside other ‘core’ products and at the same time, compete for resources and investment. Management buy-in is critical to enable focus, priority and rapid decision making; relevant but proportionate governance and oversight; and an agile execution environment that’s capable of moving quickly to adapt to market conditions and capitalise on opportunities.
Cultural alignment represents the glue that holds the most successful partnerships together and indeed, drives them forward. We actively seek out businesses that share our passion for great customer outcomes and align with our ethics and values. It’s also important to remember that it’s not all champagne and medals, and things can and do go wrong. Continually investing time in the softer side of things to develop business and personal relationships is an obvious value adding activity….and a very enjoyable one!
Our market is changing for sure, but Partnerships are, and will remain, a hugely important distribution channel. We’ve seen a lot of change over the years but ultimately, the ‘winners’ all display similar characteristics, are mindful of these key ingredients and seek to exploit them. Here’s to the next 30 years!
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