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At ERS, we've made significant changes to how we trade our Lloyds A+ rated Personal Motor products, enhancing our digital distribution and manual underwriting capabilities.

The changes will improve our speed and efficiency when assessing Prestige quotes, including MTAs and renewals. They will also enable brokers to purchase Enthusiast and Motorhome insurance direct from our eTrade platform, at any time of day. And they perfectly complement our manual underwriting offering, where customer service excellence and flexibility remain a priority.

We chatted to Annie Ward, Product Manager for Personal Motor, to hear how these changes will benefit brokers and why ERS continues to invest in digital trading and data-enriched pricing…

Tell us about the changes ERS is making to its Personal Motor business.

Over the past few months, we’ve been busy enhancing our eTrade platform to make our Personal Motor products available digitally and ensure that brokers receive unmatched service levels in this new trading world, regardless of the complexity of their request.

Initially, we’ve focused on automating our processes for inbound quotes. Brokers will now be able to submit all Prestige and Enthusiast quote requests via ERS eTrade. Brokers will also be able to access their existing Supercar and Classic car quotes for MTAs and renewals.

Why is it the right time for ERS to be investing in its digital distribution capabilities?

Our Personal Motor business has gone from strength to strength in recent years, thanks to our combination of specialist cover, underwriting expertise, and unmatched service levels.

However, we need to increase operational efficiency to maintain these levels as we grow. So, the challenge has been to identify how we can harness underwriting automation and self-serve provision in a genuinely beneficial way to brokers.

The broader market is moving towards more automation and efficiency, but too often, this comes at the expense of flexibility. Instead, we’re taking a blended approach – combining the best aspects of automation with the best of expert underwriting – so that service efficiency doesn’t come at the cost of product quality or flexibility.

A good example of this is Sports & Entertainment. There are some very competitive aggregators in this market, but all of their policies rely upon standard wording. By contrast, using ERS eTrade, we can offer brokers an efficient, rapid turnaround solution that still provides an enhanced, quality wording.

Alongside the eTrade expansion, you’ve also restructured the Personal Motor team. What’s the rationale behind this?

Historically, we built our teams around our different products, which was helpful operationally but sometimes left brokers a bit confused about who to contact, particularly regarding complex risks.

To support the eTrade expansion, we’ve brought our entire Personal Motor specialism onto a single team, giving brokers a focal point for all Prestige, Enthusiast, Motorhome and Collections risks.

Within the team, we still have specialists for each vehicle type – from kit cars to motorhomes. However, every underwriter is cross-trained to support all of the Personal Motor lines, meaning there will be no drop off in service even when we’re experiencing peak demand.

Where do you draw the line between what can be quoted via eTrade and what still needs to be manually underwritten?

There are no limits to what brokers can input into eTrade – it can cater to even the most complex, multi-vehicle risks.

For Prestige risks, all quotes submitted will be referred and fast-tracked online to our expert underwriters. Our ambition is to launch full quote and buy functionality in the future, allowing brokers to obtain instant quotes on standard risks without manual intervention, while freeing up our underwriters to give more time to complex requests and collection quotes.

Our Enthusiast and Motorhome products will offer full quote and buy functionality from launch, allowing brokers to seek and purchase insurance solutions 24/7. Complex risks will continue to be referred to our underwriters, but with the guarantee of a quicker response where enquiries are submitted via eTrade, as this gives our team all the information we need to assess and price the risk.

Why is turnaround time so important in the market at present?

Rapid turnaround is part and parcel of the digital age, but it’s an area in which the insurance industry is falling short of customer expectations. Many of our competitors have struggled to maintain servicing levels due to the protracted impact of Covid, combined with difficulties complying with the new dual-pricing directive.

We’re speeding up at a time when they’re slowing down. We’ve shown consistency and reliability, and thanks to the latest enhancements, brokers submitting Personal Motor quotes via eTrade will either receive an instant quote or, if the quote is referred to our experts, a fast-tracked response within two hours.

But it’s not just about turnaround time. We know brokers want real-time access to insurers’ policies and increased flexibility to support specific customer requests – for example, adding drivers or multiple vehicle types on a single policy. eTrade enables them to submit multiple quote requests and compare and contrast different policy options far more quickly and efficiently than via conventional manual underwriting.

Tell us about how ERS is using data and machine learning to inform its pricing?

As the largest motor-only insurers in the UK, our dataset is pretty much unrivalled, affording us a unique opportunity to go beyond basic automation.

We employ pricing specialists – from actuaries to data scientists – and we’ve built a state-of-the-art pricing platform that analyses all of our data gleaned across different motor lines and uses machine learning to develop predictive pricing models – both for individual risks and multi-vehicle policies or collections.

This allows us to automate pricing and free up underwriters time to cater for complex and unusual risks under a single policy and rating engine.

We’re also further enriching our pricing models with additional data sets, such as agreed values and previous driving experience. Using ERS eTrade allows us to go far beyond traditional Insurer Hosted Pricing and ask the specific questions we need to deliver the most accurate real-time pricing.

What other aspects of the Personal Motor propositions make ERS stand out from the crowd?

Firstly, all of our Prestige claims are handled by a dedicated team of claims handlers with a deep understanding of our policy wording and our customers’ needs. Brokers benefit from the same individual handler looking after a claim from start to finish. And because claims are handled in-house, we’re better able to control the customer journey, not to mention the overall cost – which, of course, has a positive effect on pricing for all customers.

Secondly, brokers have the option to get a Motor Breakdown Insurance quote for their Prestige and Motorhome clients via eTrade. Motor Breakdown Insurance is already included in most Classic Car policies.

Finally, what can you say to assuage fears that increased reliance on eTrade will come at the expense of brokers’ relationships with ERS and its underwriters?

The goal is to free up our underwriters to spend more time relationship-building – not less!

Take our regional trading underwriters (RTU), for example. We have recently recruited a third RTU for the Midlands, Mark Suffield, in order for us to ensure we're providing the customer service excellence that our brokers expect. We want them to spend as much time as possible visiting local brokers and trading, rather than being stuck behind their desks writing standard policies. We’re freeing this time up by using more automation and self-serve provision to cover off the basics.

That said, we understand that not everyone will be instantly comfortable using eTrade. Our underwriters are still available for inbound enquiries, and there are no plans to remove the human touch from what we do.

Why not go ahead and test out eTrade in your own time? You’ll soon find that it’s a quicker, smoother, and mutually beneficial way of working. Take a look at our eTrade Support Hub to get you up and running on ERS eTrade.

Sign up to ERS eTrade or if you already have an account Sign in.

Sign up to a Personal Motor on eTrade webinar on 15th or 21st February.

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