Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

Is your personal lines book on its deathbed?

Written by Crystal O'Hara | May 2, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Automation and the availability of obtaining quotes online in real-time has dramatically effected the way personal lines is sold in Canada.

The once 'premium power-house' of the brokerage has dwindled over the years for various reasons, such as:

  • Competition from online insurers like esurance.ca, belairdirect.com and sonnet.ca to name a few. Not only do they have automatic quoting, they also have sophisticated advertising campaigns that lure customers and prospects away from you.
  • Negative press. Poor claims handling, substantial rate increases and fraud scandals have contributed to lack of consumer confidence in the industry overall.
  • Economic downturn which lead to insured’s missing payments or allowing coverage to lapse.

If people are no longer purchasing personal lines from your brokerage or not paying their premiums, what’s your end game? That is, what’s your plan to replace this vanishing source of revenue?

For many brokerages, the solution lies in growing their commercial book. We’ve identified five key trends shaping the commercial lines market you need to explore.

1. Changing client expectations.

Customers and prospects have little tolerance for extended wait times, paper-based processes and lack of digital presence among brokers. Many businesses are fully mobile and social media savvy and they expect the same from you.

2. Increased competition.

Not only do you have to battle online insurers and direct writers, you also need to compete with forward-thinking brokerages that have already made the switch. The longer you wait, the more difficult and expensive it will become.

3. Segment and specialize.

One key segment is small to medium-sized commercial accounts that meet specific underwriting criteria that can be processed quickly, like restaurants or retail. For these accounts, brokers require a more efficient business model that capitalizes on available automation tools.

4. Efficiency and data analysis.

Big data and being digital is all the rage, but what does that exactly mean for you? In an article published by McKinsey & Company, digital should be seen less as a thing and more a way of doing things. They’ve broken it down into three attributes:

  • Creating value at the new frontiers of the business world.
  • Creating value in the processes that execute a vision of customer experiences.
  • Building foundational capabilities that support the entire structure.

Insurers are spending large amounts of money to better understand the products they are offering and the needs of consumers. Brokers need to adopt many of the same strategies to stay relevant.

5. The broker as a risk resource.

Telling customers and prospects, “buy it because it’s the best deal in town,” is no longer enough. In correlation with item #1 above, businesses are becoming more savvy when it comes to risk management and the advice they expect from their broker.

For many brokers that means acquiring knowledgeable commercial producers, account executives and risk consultants that understand business sectors, develop lasting relationships and proactively solve problems for clients. That is the cornerstone for future growth, not price.

These insights create incredible opportunity for brokerages, but if your brokerage stays focused on personal lines, the transition may be overwhelming. That is why I recommend reading our Free eBook: 5 Trends Shaping Broker Strategies in Commercial Insurance. In it, we discuss how and why the personal lines market share is fading and share the opinions of leading experts on the best ways to grow your commercial book.