The personal lines market has been….erm….interesting during the last twelve months. Like the final act of a Shakespeare tragedy, several UK insurers have exited stage left. The consensus view – at least within the insurer lobby – in explaining their decision is that it’s all the fault of the customer, choosing to buy insurance a different way.

  • 16 Jan 2017 – 10:40 AM
  • News

The personal lines market has been….erm….interesting during the last twelve months. Like the final act of a Shakespeare tragedy, several UK insurers have exited stage left. The consensus view – at least within the insurer lobby – in explaining their decision is that it’s all the fault of the customer, choosing to buy insurance a different way.

Over the years, big insurers talk regularly about the ‘special relationships’ they enjoy with the broking fraternity. Foreign trips, expensive stands at BIBA, red letter days and sports events, to be sure the red carpet is regularly rolled out for brokers, and insurers vie with each other to be the brokers’ BFF.

The evidence from the last twelve months suggests differently, at least where personal lines broking is concerned. It’s more a case of ‘big hat, no cattle,’ for insurers who, at the first whiff of grapeshot, have reduced their exposure to PL broking, or have threatened it. Management has judged that its easier to go direct, via the aggregators, and spend their £millions of marketing treasure on their own brands.  So much for the special relationship.

It means brokers need to look elsewhere for support. Growth in personal lines is undoubtedly tough but niche and specialist insurances can be a big revenue earner for brokers. Advice and experience still counts for customers, and there is an ever wider move towards segmentation, thanks to digital and social media that enables communities of people with shared interests to come together, albeit virtually. Bank branches are disappearing fast, as a result of mobile banking, and maybe big high street branch networks will go the same way, but there is plenty of room for brokers to operate successfully in the virtual world.

A specialist personal lines MGA, UK General faces into the New Year with some optimism and a shop full of niche products. Backed by an imaginative capacity provider with a broad risk appetite, we have new products coming on stream, such as cyber and pleasurecraft, and we continue to welcome discussions with broking partners with smart schemes ideas. Yes…. that’s it… partners. You need to stick by them. Big insurers take note. 

By Karen Beales, Managing director