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The evolution of Zurich Personal Lines

At a glance

  • This year Zurich has introduced new products, a new rating structure and will see the roll-out of FCEDI completed on software houses by end of 2013
  • Zurich has put fraud further under the industry spotlight with the launch of broker policy validation for new motor business this summer
  • A held underwriting discipline has secured positive results for Zurich and its brokers

As we enter the final couple of months of 2013, the year has so far been defined by aggressive underwriting discipline by some of Zurich’s competitors, not to mention a new tranche of regulations to hit the market.

But its journey to build long-term sustainable growth in Personal Lines is well under way, as Ian McManus, Head of Personal Lines Broker at Zurich looks back on a year that has positioned Zurich and its brokers for profitable growth for 2014 and beyond – all in a market still emerging from the financial crisis.

“The market was under-priced in 2012,” said Ian. “Over the past year, it has dropped again by another 9%. It’s just simply not a sustainable position for the market as a whole. However, Zurich is maintaining its underwriting discipline, which means we won’t write business to a loss.

“Our hope for the next 12 months is that more sense will return. A soft market for a protracted period of time is hard for both brokers and insurers. We find it harder to make money and brokers lose commission and a percentage of the premium.”

New times, new propositions

Despite the challenging market, Zurich is seeing very positive results, putting the company in a strong position for growth. Holding its underwriting discipline, it has seen competitors release results and reduce their premium levels.

This positive performance has positioned Zurich for the future, as it comes to the end of its two-year journey to transform its business – now offering FCEDI on all software houses for its home and motor products by the end of 2013.

Ian said: “We have been operating with our team in Bolton for over 12 months and know that it is a successful model. But we aren’t resting on our laurels, we are enhancing our referral process following feedback from brokers and will be able to share this new capability with our brokers soon.”

And while the year has had its ups and downs, it has provided the opportunity for Zurich Personal Lines to reach out to brokers and offer them tools to deal with the current market fluctuations.

“For Zurich, this year has been about demonstrating our expertise to brokers to set us aside from the competition,” said Ian. “Zurich is putting more tools into the market to help brokers compete more effectively. BrokerBox was launched in May and contains various inserts and information that is both relevant to Zurich products and pertinent to market conditions.”

Shaping our counter-fraud capability

This year, Zurich has worked with a diverse group of brokers to shape its strategy – particularly to define its policy validation capability. “Like the launch of our Broker Policy Validation capability in July”, said Ian. “Brokers told us that insurers could do more to help them tackle fraud at the application stage and we listened by involving them before the launch to help us evolve the capability.

“These channels are the voice of the broker and we use dedicated focus groups and forums, with a diverse range of brokers to fully validate our approach.”

Five months since the capability was launched, Zurich is seeing a trend that has led to an increased focus on data quality. “Nearly a quarter of identity validation is caused by inaccurate dates of birth and this is where the quality of data input at quote stage is vital,” said Ian. “It’s important that brokers keep up-to-date information on their system before it comes to us and avoid unnecessary validation of their customers’ policies.”

For Zurich, this year has been about demonstrating our expertise to brokers to set us aside from the competition. Zurich is putting more tools into the market to help brokers compete more effectively

Ian McManus, Head of Personal Lines at Zurich

Zurich has supported brokers by launching two BrokerBox inserts this year, offering tips on improving the accuracy of data and validating customer data at point of application. Its dedicated policy validation website also gives brokers more information about the capability and Zurich’s counter-fraud activity.

Making it easier to do business

Heading into 2014, Zurich Personal Lines will continue its focus on routes to make it easier for brokers to do business. Already engaging brokers with its new operational model, Zurich has plans to refresh its Altitude proposition next year – the portfolio transfer programme has been active for 10 years and evolved from modest single insurer transfers to multi-insurer, combined household and private car deals.

Ian said: “We’ve reached out to brokers to understand the impact that our new business model has had on their business this year and it’s even more important we continue to do this – gathering collective views on a range of business topics to help us innovate for the future.

“It’s all about capitalising on the capability that we’ve created, and expanding and developing existing relationships, and also developing new ones and new opportunities in the future.”

Image © Getty

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