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Collaboration is key in a challenging commercial climate

At a glance

  • By working in collaboration with our broker partners, Zurich believes that success will follow.

Like many of Zurich’s senior directors, Graham Prior has a pedigree with the company that dates back over 25 years. However, he is resolutely forward looking in his commitment to keeping Zurich’s underwriting capabilities in the vanguard of what the market offers.

As Zurich’s UK Commercial Broker Underwriting Director, Graham looks after the division’s pricing and underwriting strategy, and is keen to make sure it is delivered to the broking community in the most professional and efficient way possible.

He says: “We invest in a lot of training for our underwriters and it is tailored to the specific customer segments in which they are working. Our underwriters are fully empowered and this, in conjunction with the high level of skill and technical judgement they have, really helps them to meet the individual needs of customers and brokers.”

In addition, Graham believes that brokers and their clients benefit from the excellent data sets and forecasting models that Zurich has created. Indeed, the significant depth of resource the business can dedicate to researching, evolving and improving these underwriting tools will continue to be a differentiating factor in Graham’s eyes.

Developing the three-way relationship

Like many other areas of the insurance market, the commercial sector is not without its challenges, and there are a number of issues that insurers and brokers need to deal with effectively in order to offer the best insurance solutions possible to clients. In the first instance, Graham is keen to see the three-way relationship between client, broker and insurer developed to create the strongest outcome for all concerned.

Whether it is time spent onsite, working through improved risk management options, or exploring how better business continuity programmes could be designed and implemented, Graham says Zurich has a huge amount of internal expertise in these areas and can really help brokers to make a difference for their clients.

He is also quick to point out that actively assessing, mitigating and managing risks does not have to come at a huge cost to the client. “Simply by getting together and discussing a risk properly, there is a lot of helpful information that can come out,” he says. “Making improvements that generate significant benefits can often be low cost and revolve around things like improved documentation, keeping formalised training records and assessing past claims to see where changes would have a real impact in the future.”

Keenly aware of the price sensitivity that the current climate is driving among commercial insurance buyers, Graham says it is essential for insurers to offer added value to their policyholders.

The cover is an option and it can cost a little extra, but I believe it really is something that is worth considering

Customer benefits in adaptation clauses

This is where a close relationship between all parties will pay dividends, and he encourages brokers, for example, to discuss cover that includes adaptation clauses to allow improvements to be made at the time of reinstatement following a loss. He says: “The cover is an option and it can cost a little extra, but I believe it really is something that is worth considering.”

Explaining his position, he says the increasing frequency of floods, windstorms and significant freezes has seen many businesses make a claim in recent years, and such weather events are forecast to become more common in the coming years

Having cover that can actually move a business forward following a loss is something that can determine its future success, and this is the sort of added extra that can help brokers give clients real value in the cover they advocate.

Looking forward, Graham says Zurich is focused on doing as much as it can to contain rising claims costs driven by factors such as increasing incidences of arson, metal theft and more complex supply chain arrangements.

There is also a close eye being kept on the review of the Ogden tables that are applied to larger bodily injury claims and the potential impact that any changes could have on the level of outstanding and future claims.

Graham feels that Zurich’s wealth of internal expertise and resource puts it in an excellent position to manage these challenges and help brokers help their clients cope with the individual difficulties they are facing.

Indeed, his approach is very much about working in partnership, and the closer that Zurich can work with its brokers and their clients, the better he believes the outcome will be for all concerned. It is driving this sort of collaboration that continues to be his primary focus.

Image © Getty

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