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What are investors looking for in insurance brokers?

The size of the insurance market means that the prize for an investor partnering with the right broker is a large one. The British Insurance Brokers Association suggests the 2,000 brokers active in the UK arrange 72% of all general insurance and 93% of commercial cover, driving premiums of more than £60bn a year.

Brokers are therefore a highly attractive proposition for investors – but only if they have the right strategies in place enabling them to take advantage of this highly fragmented and evolving market.

So how can brokers stand out? In an increasingly digital market, providing value on standard policies such as motor insurance, where online price comparison sites now dominate, can seem challenging. However, there are a number of key attributes that can help create a winning proposition.

 

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Firstly, a laser-like focus on customer need is essential. This is especially true for brokers that can support customers in complex transactions, or who offer bespoke cover either on non-standard products, such as listed buildings, one-off events or modified vehicles, or to customers with non-standard profiles which might include high net worth individuals, businesses and charities. The key is to find segments that need something designed specifically for their needs.

 

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Kingsbridge is a fantastic example of where a clear customer proposition enabled a company to grow significantly. When Livingbridge invested in Kingsbridge in 2014, there were two distinct parts to the business, a traditional corporate insurance broker and a newer offering which provided a single policy of insurance to freelance contractors. This gave them a niche product that filled a gap in the market and they took advantage of a growing trend of self-employment in the UK workforce. Kingsbridge had a clear understanding of how the market was changing and what customers wanted, enabling it to more than double in size over our two year investment.

Crucially, successful brokers offer superior customer service and specialist knowledge. This is fundamental to building a relationship of trust with the policyholder that just isn’t available on a price comparison site. Coversure, the insurance broker franchise network that we have recently invested* in, supports small business customers in buying the right insurance cover. SME owners will often require additional help and advice to navigate complex purchases. Coversure enables its member brokers to focus on providing high quality advice to their customers, whilst Coversure also takes care of back office work such as product sourcing, technology and client money handling.

Increasingly brokers are also looking at how they can utilise tech to offer consumers something different, embracing new tools to deliver advice more efficiently. These could include improved digital transactional services such as electronic signature software, a customer feedback system or even back of house tools such as process automation.

 

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Utilising tech and data as part of a customer acquisition strategy is also essential in a competitive market. Research suggests that businesses which successfully leverage customer behavioural insights outperform their peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin. At Livingbridge, we have invested in an in-house customer acquisition team to support our investees in thinking through customer lifetime value. Practically, this involves identifying which activities are working best and optimising the performance of channels such as PPC and SEO.

The bottom line is that good quality insurance advice will always be valued and customer centricity will always be the common denominator. The challenge is to reinvent the advice model for the digital age - to attract new customers through greater utilisation of technology and to use new tools to offer superior levels of service.


*Completion pending FCA Approval

 

If you'd like to know more about our track record helping fast-growth businesses in the services space, please contact investments@livingbridge.com.

This article was originally published in City AM on Friday 3rd August 2018.