Personal lines - bounce back ability

Broker confidence is high and many are planning for a new normal year of growth – with some good reason, believes Simon Gardiner, our Head of Sales North…

Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, brokers remain overwhelmingly positive about the future – so much so that around five in six are confident that they’ll grow their business in the next year, according to our recent Insurance Times/CBPF broker survey.

That confidence is justified, according to CBPF Head of Sales, North, Simon Gardiner. “The market will definitely grow,” he says. “Demand will come back as society opens up again – and grow to reflect huge consumer pent-up demand.”

In personal lines, Gardiner sees many areas as being ripe for growth. “There’ll be a spring back to recover what’s been lost,” he says. “For instance, young drivers haven’t been able to have their lessons and get their tests, which has stopped them getting their insurance and getting out there. That’s an example of some business that would have come back anyway – but there will also be additional new business on top of that, new demand.”

Meanwhile, the easing of Covid restrictions – all will be gone by the summer if the government’s roadmap remains on course – brings an opportunity for brokers to look at how they might invest in their own operations. 

“Brokers should be carrying out a post-Covid review, as most other companies will be doing,” says Gardiner, “looking at how well they have coped and, although it’s been a completely unprecedented situation, what they could have done better.”

How brokers invest in their own resources should be a key consideration. “People are always your number one, most valuable resource,” Gardiner goes on. “But technology should also be considered. We all had to move to remote working quickly and, for the most part, successfully. Now brokers need to look at the efficiencies – the level of home working, the reduction in travel and an increased expectation from staff about how they should be allowed to work. 

“All of that means brokers should be looking at processes and systems that can continue improving their services, while minimising a reliance on having offices fully open. Employers have learned they need to think beyond normal boundaries so that they can have a business-as-usual model that delivers excellent service to customers but reaps the benefits of flexible working.”

The recent survey also showed that most brokers believe attracting more clients and increased premiums will be their main factors for growth. Gardiner isn’t so sure. 

“I don’t think we know yet,” he says. “We’ve learned to expect the unexpected, and everything is so difficult to forecast. It’s a highly competitive market and that competitiveness will return, especially with so many players in the market. 

“Premiums have dropped – if we’re using our cars less, that means fewer miles, accidents and claims. Although I think those premiums will recover, I don’t believe they’ll go higher than pre-pandemic.”

Most brokers also see demand for premium finance growing in the coming 12 months, and Gardiner underlines its usefulness as a growth tool. “Premium finance can play a huge role in growing business for brokers,” he says. 

“Helping people to spread the cost of minimising their risk is a great advantage. I can’t wait to get out there again and see clients face-to-face, talking to them about the enormous benefits of premium finance.

“Brokers are always seeking opportunities to grow – because that’s the nature of the industry, it’s what they naturally do. We are here to support them.”