The journey from rating guides to e-trading

May 10, 2018 Graham Walker

The requirement to develop with technology 

Comparing where I started and where we are now in terms of e-trading highlights just how the purchasing of insurance has changed through a broker and how it will keep evolving.

Commercial Lines e-trading

If I fire up the flux capacitor on my DeLorean and send myself back more years than I care to remember, I would see an insurance broker in a family-run local firm who was working out car quotes using an array of rating guides, each one different in its complexity.

We had Bradford & Pennine, NEM, GRE, RB Motor Policies, Royal Carshield 50, London Edinburgh and Cloverleaf, plus whoever you may be thinking of right now as well. Over time, we got to know which insurer would be best for the individual whose quote form we were filling in. As a result, telling the person to leave it with you and to pop back on Friday for their quote was commonplace and it worked.

Once BP Five, City and Senior came in, with their smaller rating structure it changed to quote there and then. Independent Motor Target guide was also simple, but let's not dwell on that.

Then the quoting platform came along, quickly followed by EDI, which removed the need for rating guides. This was a huge relief, as we were all really struggling with the complexity of the NIG Flex plan. My dad in particular would turn grey at the thought of having to work out a quote for a young driver with convictions.

EDI proved to be a game changer as it enabled us to deliver and convert business right there and then, and hand the customer their policy documents. The manila files were soon a lot thinner and I didn't need to search for good quality carbon paper for the cover notes.

Household was going the same way, and it was a blessing to have a simpler way of rating specified and unspecified risks. Consequently we all loved doing EDI household business. If only we could do this with less questions though!

As a high street broker, we were also writing commercial business. Luckily, the next level up from faxing a quote form over to several insurers was not far away. Before we knew it, we had Iron-sure providing a quote by telephone with all the documents issued to us within days or weeks. That was ground-breaking indeed, with Eagle Star and Royal Sun Alliance soon adopting this high-tech way of writing commercial business, followed by a demonstration of QuoteMac and other emerging software platforms for commercial.

At the time, we wondered if it would ever catch on, as surely we needed to keep our tradesman guides – and, if the customer was of a decent size, go to the Norman MasterBuild. If someone had told us we would be able to do fleet, combined, marine cargo, multi-property and many niche products through EDI (I had not heard of e-trading back then), would we have believed them?

Coming back to the present day, e-trading is now at the fore as a fast way of transacting business that has been truly adopted by the commercial industry. The fact that insurers and MGAs have realised that brokers want access to wider policies more quickly means they have or are making as many products as possible available through the e-trading route. 

In the future, it is likely we will get to a point where a high number of commercial combined and fleet policies under several thousand pounds are not manually written. This increased automation will enable insurers to look at more of the risks they currently don't quote for due to the sheer volume of business, which will in turn benefit brokers.

With a strong impetus within the industry for e-trading risks, it should be a broker's first port of call. To achieve this, brokers need a system they trust that allows them to trade efficiently and provide the best possible service for their customers. 

At SSP, we have a real drive to increase and deliver on commercial e-trading. We want our brokers to be able to write all of their e-trade business via our system, and are working hard to drive forward a stronger service proposition with increased products and panels. We are committed to listening to the commercial needs of our brokers, so if you have a scheme or require our help to develop a particular product with a specific provider, then talk to us.

View more commercial e-trading articles

About the Author

Graham Walker

Graham joined SSP in September 2017 as Commercial Lines Relationship Manager. He brings over 30 years' broking experience to the role, gained in both a family-run local brokerage and several key positions in the commercial arm of Swinton, where he managed local insurer relationships.

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