Introducing Dave, our High Risk Product Manager

Dave Burdett Blog

‘High risk’ is one of the fastest growing categories within the motor insurance industry, catering for for a huge variety of customer profiles and circumstances. Underwriting these customers is one of our core specialisms, so we thought we’d sit down with High Risk Product Manager Dave Burnet to get the lowdown on the category and why he sees it as such an interesting market to operate in…

 When did you get started in motor insurance?

 I started in the industry in 2011, and have always worked mainly on bespoke products. I was fortunate enough to join ERS in 2015 as an underwriter in its high risk team.

 Tell us about your Product Manager role at ERS?

 It’s been a few months since I was appointed as product manager for the high risk team, so I’ve had a good opportunity to get my feet under the table. I’m responsible for managing the financial performance of ERS’s high risk proposition and setting out our appetite for the year ahead.

 I look after a team of high risk underwriters, and I spend the rest of my time keeping up with broker relationships and the market more broadly. This last point is critical, as the high risk space moves rapidly and is subject to a wide range of external forces. You can’t afford to take your eye off the ball.

 What does a typical day in your world look like?

 I’m usually based in our London headquarters, but beyond that, every day tends to be different. A typical day could be spent in meetings with brokers, or helping the team out with quotes. Even though my core role has changed, I like to get stuck into the detail still, as it’s a great way to stay in touch with the market.

 How does ERS define ‘high risk’?

 High risk is a specialist category that focuses on the driver aspect of every risk. It caters for ‘distress drivers’, which could mean anyone with six points or more on their license or people with previous criminal convictions – any risks that non-specialist insurers might veer away from.

 The market is much bigger than you might think. People can become high risk if they have a speeding conviction or even if their auto-renewal fails on their insurance and they accidentally drive around uninsured for a short period. If you have a motor insurance policy cancelled, it’s likely that you’ll end up in the high risk category, which means some insurers won’t touch you. However, we know that as long as each risk is assessed correctly, and priced appropriately, there’s no reason why it can’t be underwritten.

 Interestingly, there’s a fair amount of overlap with our Prestige business – often over-enthusiastic supercar owners that have come a-cropper for slipping over the speed limit.

 Tell us about some of the major trends you’re seeing in the category right now?

 The police are cracking down on uninsured drivers, of which there are an estimated 1 million on the UK roads, not to mention the many further underinsured drivers whose policies may not be worth the paper they’re written on. There’s also a growing crackdown on drink and drug driving, all of which is causing the market to grow at pace and creating a new competitor set of MGAs and unrated insurers looking to capitalise on this higher premium risk.

 It’s important that these drivers are catered for in the market, but it can create a headache for brokers if their customers are leaning towards the lowest possible price rather than the security of a Lloyds A-Rated insurer. Ultimately, the price you pay on your policy is rendered irrelevant if the insurer doesn’t pay up in the event of something going wrong – this is a message we’re continuing to push out to brokers, particularly those in the high risk category. Security needs to sit alongside price as a key factor when choosing an insurer.

 Finally, the growth of keyless cars is making theft a big issue once more across the motor insurance sector. The theft of a vehicle is often the point at which any inaccuracies/falsehoods in a customer’s policy will come to the surface, meaning the driver could end up finding themselves not only vehicle-less but newly classified as high risk.

 Is there anything that still surprises you about the high risk category?

 I’d like to say that I’ve seen it all, but the truth is that every risk is a bit different, and that’s why it’s important that all of them are manually underwritten.

 What is it that makes ERS stand out in the market for high risk?

 The security of our Lloyds A-Rating really sets us apart in this space, as does our dedicated team of underwriters. Few of our competitors can match this combination, and our brokers know that every risk will be handled by a human, rather than fed through an algorithm.

 What are your passions and pastimes outside of working hours?

I’m a big petrol head and the proud owner of a modified Mitsubishi Evo. Not only does this keep me busy outside of working hours, it also helps with the day to day job working for a specialist motor insurer! We have a number of car enthusiasts across the business and I genuinely feel that having a passion that is closely linked to the business we are writing helps give the team the upper hand, especially when we receive a risk that is completely out of the ordinary. I guess that and Netflix are my main priorities outside of work!

If you weren’t in the motor insurance business, what would your dream job be?

I’ve thought long and hard about this but I don’t have a definite answer, it would probably have to involve the motorsport industry to some extent but I suppose the dream would be to win the lottery, give up work and spend even more time with the Evo and the streaming service!

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