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Since launching our specialist Prestige offering over 6 years ago, business has gone from strength to strength. This success is largely thanks to the efforts of our Regional Trading Underwriters (RTU), who go the extra mile to understand local brokers’ needs and give them a bespoke, responsive service. So much so that we have recently introduced an additional RTU to the team, Mark Suffield, to cover the Midlands.

As we make our Prestige products available online for the first time, we caught up with two of ERS’s most experienced underwriters, Sam Prever and Jim Neild, to get a market update and learn why they believe personal broker relationships are more important than ever…

Opening up ERS eTrade to Prestige brokers is a significant development for ERS. What does this mean for your practice as Regional Trading Underwriters?

Jim: The purpose of the Regional Trading Underwriter role is to give brokers access to local decision-makers who are specialists in their field. It’s an incredibly powerful proposition – we know that relationships are so important, and our regional presence enables us to get much closer to our brokers. But as we grow, the proposition naturally becomes more challenging to execute; hence why we’re looking for ways to ensure our regional team can continue to commit time to face-to-face trading. As well as our new ERS eTrade channel which we will go on to discuss, we have just appointed a new Regional Trading Underwriter, Mark Suffield, into the Prestige team to ensure that we are able to maintain the same strength relationships that we value so highly.

Sam: Our regional presence allows us to adapt to emerging trends more quickly and with greater agility than anyone else in the market. By automating the more straightforward risks via ERS eTrade, we free ourselves up to focus on the areas where we add the most value.

Do you expect brokers to start using ERS eTrade immediately, or will it take time?

Sam: In the first instance, I think we’ll see brokers uploading simple, single-vehicle risks to the platform. This will immediately make a big difference on both sides – it’s quicker for us process and quicker for them to receive a quote, and we hope that once they’re familiar with how it all works, we’ll start to see more complex requests coming in via eTrade.

Jim: I think brokers understand that, as experienced underwriters, we should be helping them address complex risks and finding smarter ways to service the risks that are more about box-ticking.

The transition may take a little time as we are asking brokers to change their processes slightly, but when they start to see the benefit of speedier quotes, they will hopefully start to use it more.

The eTrade expansion is happening during a time of particularly challenging economic conditions. What are the major trends you’re seeing across the Prestige Motor market?

Sam: The story of 2022 was one of existing market challenges being magnified. Many of the issues we described in 2021 – supply chain delays, claims inflation, availability of new vehicles – have been exacerbated, partly due to the war in Ukraine and the escalating cost of living crisis.

For example, clients who want the latest Prestige models may have to wait up to two years for vehicle delivery due to availability issues. It’s a similar story with repairs and replacing stolen vehicles. Everything is taking longer and costing more to source, leading to claims inflation and forcing customers to spend more time in replacement hire cars.

And how are these challenges impacting Prestige Motor brokers?

Jim: The availability issues Sam described are twofold. Firstly, the second hand market is thriving, as people are buying preowned vehicles when they can’t get a new one in time, causing both new and second hand vehicle values to appreciate as demand is greater. Secondly, claims inflation continues to increase due parts and vehicle shortages, this requires motor insurance providers to review their pricing.

This is another reason why our eTrade expansion is so particularly timely. As underwriters, we need to understand exactly what brokers need from us right now. When vehicles are in short supply, it is exceptional service that keeps customers onside. From our perspective, we’re doing everything we can to support dealerships via our brokers, getting them the quick turnaround and quality quotes they require. Again, it’s all about building and maintaining strong relationships.

To what extent are Personal Motor clients being affected by the cost-of-living crisis?

Sam: While some drivers may be feeling the pinch more than others, I think everyone can see the impact of the price increases in their daily lives. Within Prestige, there’s certainly evidence that clients such as company directors are looking for ways to minimise business costs. We’re continuing to see a rise in quote requests for individual or multiple Prestige vehicles that would formerly have been covered by their corporate fleet policies.

Jim: We’re also seeing more demand for high-end EVs, which offer lower running costs and tax incentives that are increasingly attractive to Prestige clients with an eye on the future.

Tell us about some of the other opportunities you’re seeing across the market.

Jim: Capacity is not as wide as it used to be in the Prestige insurance market, following the exits of several providers, creating significant demand within the High Net Worth motor market. It’s perfect timing for us to accelerate our proposition and improve access to our products.

Sam: Alongside this, we see a big opportunity within collections – policies which can be tricky and time-consuming to write, especially when they involve multiple drivers and a mixture of supercars, classics, and everyday vehicles. By directing more straightforward risks to ERS eTrade, we’ll have more time to focus on supporting brokers with these collections.

Jim: Brokers tend to learn over time where to look when placing certain risks. Since we began writing Prestige, Classic and mixed collections, the average number of vehicles per quote has doubled, which demonstrates that our offering is resonating, and word is spreading.

Why are mixed collections such a sweet spot for ERS?

Jim: There’s been a lack of flexibility in this market for some time. Traditional providers tend to approach collections in the same way, offering a set, take-it-or-leave-it price for everything. As we are a motor only insurer, we’re more agile and take the time to understand how the uniqueness of the risk feeds into the price and proposition we offer. Some examples of this can include taking into consideration that certain drivers only use certain cars in the collection and certain cars are stored in certain locations. Further, our rating structure allows us to add any mix of vehicles to a policy, so it doesn’t matter how diverse the collection is – we’re generally always able to price it.

Finally, can you sum up what the ERS eTrade expansion means for ERS’s regional presence going forwards?

Sam: It’s a massively positive development for us because using ERS eTrade to service standard risks frees up the regional team to focus on building stronger relationships with brokers. This has always been a USP for ERS. Our brokers know us by name and know that we’re committed to supporting their business.

Jim: Both Sam and I have been at ERS for a long time now and Mark has been in the industry for many years. Our relationships with brokers get stronger and stronger each year, and this is something that we want to continue as the overall business grows. ERS eTrade is the necessary next step to make this happen.

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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