Meet the techies: Brolly's Phoebe Hugh warns brokers of being cut out of the market


Phoebe Hugh, co-founder and chief executive officer of InsurTech start-up Brolly, talks us through how brokers can take advantage of technology.

What is your company doing in the InsurTech space?

Brolly is the next generation of insurance distribution. Our smartphone app uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help customers manage, understand and buy their insurance in one platform, and builds a deep understanding of each individual customer and their needs.

Brolly is unique in that we really have a single view of the customer, which is unattainable by most insurers and brokers due to technology constraints or because the customer’s business is spread across multiple providers.

Our product provides a far more engaging and holistic experience to customers, giving them the insights they need to make sense of their personal insurance, streamlining the process of buying and managing insurance, and helping them to achieve more consistent coverage across all areas of their life. It’s also pretty beautiful and cool.


How do you think InsurTech will affect broking in the next five years?

The original role of a broker was to understand customers’ insurance needs, provide advice and recommendations on the most suitable products, to place the business with an insurer, and to manage that relationship.

But the rise of the price comparison site has meant that many brokers now source the majority of their new business through price-driven online channels, without providing any actual advice or value to customers, which is a real problem.

Brokers are gradually becoming disintermediated, are just another rung in the supply chain, and for many, price comparison is a loss-leading channel.

Distribution is fundamentally changing, and it’s not sustainable in the long-term for brokers to compete simply on price.

The ability to retain customers and cross-sell products is essential to survival, though this can only be achieved through an engaging product and a deep understanding of customer data.

Technologies such as AI and data analytics will continue to develop, which will drive new distribution models, such as Brolly, to simplify and personalise the process of buying and managing insurance.

And unless brokers evolve their proposition and differentiate themselves, they’re in real danger of being completely cut out of the process.


Should brokers be worried about how InsurTech could disrupt the market?

Yes I think so, certainly where they do not have the technological capability to compete. The market is changing in response to the demands from customers, who expect the kind of convenience and simplicity offered by companies like Airbnb, Uber and Whatsapp.

The millennial generation in particular is an emerging market who have never used brokers or independent financial advisors before, and they expect to do everything easily and immediately on their smartphone.

It’s crucial for brokers to establish where they can add value, as those who can give the best overall experience to customers will naturally win.

It may not happen overnight, but it is happening. We only need to look to other industries, which have been completely transformed through technological advancement, to see that.


How can brokers take advantage of InsurTech?

InsurTech should be viewed as much as an opportunity as a threat. Partnering and learning with InsurTech startups such as Brolly offers brokers an invaluable opportunity to evolve their business models to remain relevant; utilising technology to offer better service and a more streamlined experience to customers.

That means if they don’t have the skills or resources to invest in developing their own technology, they should be looking at developing partnerships with startups who can.

At Brolly we’re partnering with insurers and brokers to support them with tools and propositions to engage customers in ways they’re unable to today.

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