Mitul Bl

In recent years we’ve made a sustained investment in our Commercial proposition to deliver unmatched support for a vast array of different commercial vehicles. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape the economic landscape, we sat down with ERS Commercial product manager Mitul Malkan to get his thoughts on the future of the market and why he has a real affinity with entrepreneurial businesses…

Tell us about your role and what it involves.

I’m product manager for Commercial, which means I have responsibility for everything from Transportation and Courier through to our Specialist Commercial Vehicle (SCV) and Showman offerings.

On a day to day basis, this involves looking at how much risk we take on and the type of risks we add to the book. I’m also heavily involved in product development, making sure our products are as relevant and accessible as possible to commercial customers.

How did you get into insurance?

I did a Business Management degree at Warwick Business School which led me onto EY’s graduate scheme and a role within the actuarial practice there. I was always interested in the insurance industry and after a secondment at Allianz, I moved to a permanent position looking after the personal lines car book.

Moving to ERS in the Commercial team appealed to me because my parents and my grandparents are all entrepreneurs and so I was exposed to this mindset from an early age. It’s in my blood! When I heard about ERS, I saw that the role would offer more autonomy. I think that at a business like ERS, alongside the technical skill set, you also need that entrepreneurial spirit and the creative flair about how to drive the product set forwards.

It sounds like you might have found your natural home in this role?

Absolutely. It ties together my business management background, my love of maths and my need for variety. In fact, there’s a big parallel between the world of SCVs, where we’re supporting vehicles like ice cream vans and barista carts, and my parents’ ice cream business. I still help out with the family business in my spare time – it never feels like work to me, but when I’m with brokers I think it helps to show them how passionate I am about their customers’ world.

What are some of the highlights since you joined the business?

I think our biggest achievement has been opening up our courier product on eTrade in response to the pandemic. We saw that brokers needed faster access and a more responsive product given the struggles being endured by their customers, and in four weeks we were able to deliver the sort of product iteration that would normally take six months.

You mention customers struggling. How has the commercial market fared throughout the crisis?

I think it’s better to talk about individual businesses rather than the market as a whole. There will always be a market for commercial products, because unlike retail there’s always an urgent need to understand the case-specific risks, and this takes skill, expertise and the ability to contextualise.

However, thousands of businesses have been affected by the pandemic and forced to use various Government support schemes. In these circumstances, insurance cannot just be a faceless, transactional business. We have to look at all of the ways we can do right by our customers – whether that’s opening up our courier product or offering customers laid-up cover at a reduced premium, something that we’ve done throughout the crisis.

Do you see the situation improving in the next few months?

Sadly I think it’s inevitable that some areas will continue to struggle – for example, businesses that are wholly reliant on physical events and gatherings to trade.

But other businesses like haulage companies and couriers now have an opportunity to flourish. Even if the various COVID restrictions start to be relaxed again, purchasing behaviours have shifted. I don’t see any going back from the new era of convenience that has been realised.

In between these examples is SCV. On paper, a lot of these businesses looked like they’d struggle given their reliance on events, festivals and suchlike. In fact, we’ve seen some great instances of diversification – simple things like ice cream vans moving into local high streets, or modified catering vehicles signing up with Deliveroo and Uber Eats. I definitely feel more SCV policyholders need consider diversification opportunities for next year rather than having to keep reacting to changes in the COVID restrictions.

Why is ERS such a good choice for placing Commercial vehicles risks right now?

Our priorities are stability and continuity and I think this really resonates with brokers – they know that we’ve got their back during this difficult time.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your career to date?

Good time management really is vital. There is no such thing as a ‘to-do’ list. Every day is a new day that brings new priorities and choices about how you divide your time.

By managing your time and prioritising properly, you’ll be able to show the people around you that you can always deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. And that’s the key to building trust.

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

It would definitely be entrepreneurial – perhaps running a small business. My dad used to have an amusement and arcade machines business when I was growing up. He’s retired now and has sold the business, but when I was 10 all I wanted to do was make arcade machines!

Sign up to eTrade here or visit our dedicated web pages for more information on our Commercial products

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