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ERS has built a reputation as the UK’s largest specialist motor insurer, giving brokers access to a breadth of Lloyds A+ rated products and expert Underwriting teams. Now we’re making it even easier for brokers to trade with us by digitalising more of our specialist motor insurance. In June we’re widening our Non-Standard Retail product appetite to provide reliable cover for everyday vehicle owners underserved by the mainstream market.

We caught-up with Head of Non-Standard Retail, Suraj Sachdev, to learn about the changes and how he’s applied his data modelling expertise to the world of Personal Motor insurance…

Tell us about the changes you’re currently making to the Non-Standard Retail proposition?

Over the past few years, we’ve been hard at work developing the infrastructure needed to grow our book and widen our appetite across Non-Standard Retail. We’re doing this by targeting segments of the market where customers are less able to obtain competitive premiums, making our products and pricing information as quick and easy to access as possible.

A great example of this is older vehicles. Not all older cars should be considered classics, but we’ve had to support them through our specialist Enthusiast product line until now. Now our ERS Car product, through Software Houses CDL, OGI and SSP can process instant quote requests for standard older vehicles digitally, leaving our underwriters to respond directly to the more complex enquiries.

We have also widened our ERS Car appetite to allow for a broader range and higher value everyday vehicles up to £100k, including EVs, as we start to see a rise in demand.

Alongside this, our ERS Car product will serve customers affected by credit blemishes – using our data tools and expertise to ensure that legitimate customers no longer get rejected by the market due to genuine errors or mistakes on their credit profile.

Finally, we’re looking to quote more everyday motor business from customers with prior claims or convictions.

Ultimately, what we’re doing is bridging the gap between the everyday personal motor insurance that we’re already trading digitally and the specialist manual products we offer through our underwriters.

Insurers typically steer clear of some of these risk categories. How can ERS provide a solution for these drivers without having to underwrite everything manually?

Our background in underwriting these risks has given us tremendous insight into the market. Our specialist underwriters have spearheaded the development of detailed risk appetites, underpinned by enhanced data-driven risk models for these drivers. Ultimately resulting in us approaching the market safely, with confidence and profitability in mind.

We’re also continuing to build out our data enrichment capabilities to sort through the good from the bad. This will significantly improve what’s currently available to higher-risk drivers, who are almost entirely excluded from the mainstream market. We understand that a prior claim or a lapse of judgement might not be a true reflection of future driving habits. And while we won’t be able to cater to every scenario, we’ll be able to serve far more of the market than when we were manually underwriting these products.

By enhancing our capabilities to cater for more risks online, our specialist underwriters can focus on manually writing the more niche, complex risks.

Why is now the right time to make these changes, and how will ERS’s brokers be impacted?

In contrast to many competitors, we’ve maintained consistency around pricing despite the aggressive market conditions of the past 18-24 months. We believe that, as premiums rise to more sustainable levels over the year ahead, we’re in a great position to widen our appetite and reach drivers affected by the increases.

From a broker perspective, we’ll be able to provide continuity and stability at a time of market fluctuations and price rises. We’ll still be the go-to provider for brokers whose customers have specialist insurance needs, and we’ll also be able to deliver instant access to standard, everyday policies for anyone who doesn’t need a specialist quote.

It’s about giving everyone more choice in how they trade with us, digitising the standard products to make them more accessible, and freeing our specialist underwriters to handle the complex enquiries – which are typically the preserve of our broking partners.

In particular, where there are segments of ‘cold spots’ on broker panels, we know we can help these partners to add incremental growth by quoting for specialist risks they can’t currently address.

What else are you predicting across the market in 2022?

On a market-wide level, prices have continued to fall during the past year, despite many reasons they should actually be going up – such as the massive growth seen in the second-hand market.

We are starting to see the rates being corrected in 2022. Not only has the FCA’s pricing reforms prohibited the continuation of loss-leading practices, but competitors have started to cover rising claims inflation caused by the return of pre-pandemic road usage levels.

Of course, one thing we need to be mindful of is that driving habits will be different. We’re already seeing a big drop in morning commuter traffic and a rise in early evening and weekend traffic. Historical claims data becomes less and less relevant when long-term driving patterns change, so we’ll need to remain astute to what these changes mean and ensure our prices remain appropriate for this new normal.

If you’re looking for everyday cover for vehicles up to the value of £100k including higher risk drivers, trade ERS Car. Available on Software Houses CDL, OGI and SSP from June or talk to us about ‘Plug into ERS’ if you would like to trade directly via full cycle API.

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