​Why move more Commercial trading online? In Conversation with Scott Tillbrook

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There are not many options in the market for Motor Brokers that are looking for a broad risk appetite combined with an easily accessible online trading. That’s why ERS has spent such time and energy developing eTrade, which has recently been expanded to cover more Commercial products as well as handling MTAs, renewals, New Business Quotes and Motor Breakdown insurance. 

We caught up with ERS’s Head of Commercial & Agriculture, Scott Tillbrook, to hear more about the plans for eTrade and why he hopes that, by the end of the year, all of ERS’s Commercial business can be carried out online.

Why has ERS invested so heavily in eTrade over the past few years?

We understand that Brokers are busy, particularly in this climate, and wanted to create an online solution to make trading with us simple and accessible.

We wanted to get to a place where brokers could place new business, complete MTAs and renewals online for all of our major commercial products. This is quite unusual within the market – these product categories are more complex than mainstream commercial motor risks and so they’re rarely accessible online.

What we’re now hoping to do is get more and more brokers using eTrade to ensure speedy quoting for all standard day-to-day Commercial risks. It’s going to be a huge focus area for our business between now and the end of the year.

How have brokers responded to eTrade since it was launched?

Many saw from the outset that eTrade was exactly the tool they’d been looking for us to provide. Since then, it’s been an ongoing conversation with our Broker partners about how to expand the platform’s capabilities and help them to grow their business with us. 

Of course, there were also brokers that came to the party somewhat reluctantly given their prior experience dealing with legacy industry software. As we’ve added new functionality to eTrade we’ve found these brokers more and more receptive to the platform, and so for them it’s about continuing to raise awareness of eTrade and get them fully comfortable with using it.

One further challenge is to approach the non-motor specialists who occasionally find themselves needing to place commercial motor risks and help them to understand the benefits of eTrade – ensuring that they can easily place risks when they need to.

Why is now the right time to shift more Commercial business over to eTrade?

Over the past few years brokers have needed information, quotes and pricing details faster than ever before. The pandemic has accelerated this trend by rapidly forcing many businesses to change tack or re-purpose how their vehicles are used. eTrade helps brokers with unexpected peaks in demand as they can access their policy holders policy instantly and make any adjustments they need..

We’re also seeing changing working practices across our broker base. Again, the pandemic has accentuated this shift. Whereas once all quotes would come in during standard working hours, it’s now quite common to receive them in the evenings or at weekends as brokers flex their own operating models. eTrade makes it so much easier to transact that business.

Beyond this, are there any other broker benefits to using eTrade?

One big advantage is that they can see all of our major Commercial products on the portal, giving them the ability to place ad hoc requests that might sit outside of their core business or that are very specialist or niche.

What proportion of ERS’s Commercial business are you ideally looking to transact via eTrade?

I’d say that typically around nine in ten Commercial enquiries can be handled via eTrade, and of course, we’re going to continue to develop the platform to add further niches and capabilities within our existing product categories when business becomes more unusual or complex, we will seamlessly transfer it to an underwriter.

That said, there will always be a certain volume of complex cases that require a manual approach, and we still want to be known for handling these kind of complex and specialist risks, especially given that the most of the market struggles to support them.

Finally, what are you predicting in the months ahead for the Commercial market?

Making accurate predictions in the current climate is all but impossible (and any predication will likely be wrong), but the past few months have demonstrated just how vital many of the commercial customers we insure are to the backbone of the economy. Couriers are a fantastic example – few people realised quite how essential they were prior to the onset of the pandemic. 

What’s more, many commercial customers have really demonstrated their tenacity throughout the pandemic. We’ve seen everything from taxi drivers taking on temporary roles as fast food takeaway drivers, to community entrepreneurs re-purposing their vehicles to transport medical supplies.

While specific niches within Commercial will fare better than others as we move into next year, we’re positive about the prospects for the market at large, and we’ll be doing everything we can to support brokers through the periods of uncertainty that inevitably lie ahead.

Products you can now trade online include:

Minibus

Courier

Transportation

Specialist Commercial Vehicle

Taxi

Motor Breakdown

Horsebox

For speedy access to Commercial quotes Sign Up to eTrade today, or contact a member of the eTrade team agency@ers.com

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