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Zurich puts SME front and centre

At a glance

  • Zurich's Richard Coleman believes that creating a faster, easier SME proposition is the key to success

Zurich has always been one of the big hitters in the corporate commercial space, but that scale isn’t currently matched in SME.

Richard Coleman, Director, SME, Commercial Broker is determined to change that saying: “SME is a real opportunity for us and we are really looking to give it a very strong focus.”

Indeed, the journey has already started and although it is still some way from its conclusion, Richard feels significant changes have already been made to improve your experience of placing SME business with Zurich.

SME as a market

Richard believes getting the SME proposition right is imperative if Zurich is to support you in your everyday business. SMEs account for 99% of all enterprise in the UK and are responsible for 59% of employment and 49% of turnover in the private sector.

As such, these businesses are the engine room of the UK economy and servicing them effectively is the bread and butter of brokers up and down the country.

Richard says the challenge for Zurich, therefore, is to create a proposition that not only reflects Zurich’s expertise in the sector, but that also makes it faster, easier and more convenient for you to offer an all round insurance proposition to your clients.

Developing a new look

To do this properly is a longer-term journey, but practical changes have been introduced that are already making a difference. He says: “We have a new head of SME underwriting in Russell Corbould-Warren and a new head of SME development in Jason Wilson, both helping to drive improvements in key areas of appetite and broke focus. Our pricing has been improved and not simply by cutting our rates, but by looking closer at our data, working it harder and seeing just how we could reasonably become more competitive.

“We have employed more empowered underwriters and improved our servicing, and if brokers are not feeling this then I would really urge them to pipe up.”

In total, more than 20 new underwriters have been taken on in the last year and the majority of quotes on combined commercial are now getting a response within four hours. This is down from between 24 and 36 hours previously and represents a welcome step forward. It is also clear evidence of just how hard Zurich is trying to drive change and to let you work more effectively for your SME clients.

Strong foundations

Zurich has always offered excellent levels of cover, and Richard says there will be continuing development to look forward to in the future.

“The cover is the second stage of our journey, and we have long been recognised for offering good levels of cover to our clients. However, this does not mean we will be resting on our laurels and we are looking to develop and improve what we offer in the months ahead.”

In addition to building on the strength of the cover, there is also a push to build relationships with more brokers. He says: “We deal with a wide range of brokers in many different areas and we are working with more and more as we move forward. We are doing this organically so that we can generate relationships that are deep and long lasting and which deliver benefits for both parties.”

Building on the technical expertise that Zurich has always had, Richard explains the focus in SME is to support it with excellent service, a clearly articulated underwriting appetite and competitive pricing.

“We are working on the speed of our response and we are up to date with our mid-term adjustments and renewals,” he says. “Please let me know if this is not your experience because we are trying to build a team that can deliver in terms of pricing, service and access to underwriters. If the actual experience that brokers have of these changes could be better, then I really want to know about it.”

Zurich’s SME journey is far from over and there will be more changes introduced over the course of the year. However, the fact the journey is now well underway means you should be getting closer to the kind of pricing and service you need and your clients should be getting access to the kind of cover that will really make the difference for their businesses.

If you would like to discuss this further feel free to email me, richard.coleman@uk.zurich.com.

Image © Getty

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