Those flip-flopping insurers


Insurers are a funny bunch. They always seem to be changing their minds about stuff. One day they love a particular line of business, the next they are getting out of it. It's the same with individuals.

One day a senior executive will find himself flavour of the month taking on more and more responsibility, the next, there's been a restructure and he no longer has a role. It happens all the time, particularly the restructure part, and this tends to impact broker business the most.

Aviva has recently restructured its regional operation and has created a Scottish 'region'. Makes sense doesn't it? What makes less sense is that they already had a Scottish 'region' but three years ago they decided to do away with it as they felt most brokers dealt with the insurer centrally.

And so we find ourselves back where we started. No doubt, Aviva found that running an entire country out of Newcastle didn't quite work and that its share of the Scottish market was diminishing. But fair play to them, they've made the right decision and re-established themselves properly in Scotland.

In an even sharper about turn, Brit has decided to dispose of its regional operation. The Lloyd's insurer has spent many years and many millions building a regional network and a strong broker market. It took them time to understand how trading in the regions worked - for example, trading rooms where brokers queue up to meet the underwriter were never going to work in the regions - and it took time to build trust.

Brokers are rightly wary of insurers dipping in and out and just when it looked like Brit was in the regions to stay, they sell and the new owners decide the regions aren't for them.

Mitsui Sumitomo is another who has made a big recent play for the regions and of course Axa has not been shy about its regional intentions. Amanda Blanc at least has asked to be judged on her actions and most are more than happy to do so.

The point is that this constant changing of strategy is damaging to broker/insurer relationships. This industry is wasting money, time and trust on an epic scale but each generation repeats the mistakes of its predecessors. Why that is I don't know, perhaps some of you can enlighten me?

All I do know is that every time you bring someone new in they have their own ideas about how things should be run and rightly so but why is it that companies feel the need to change the leadership every three or four years? Where is the data that shows this is a sensible thing to do? It almost certainly doesn't exist but those faces at the top will continue to change and those strategies will follow suit.

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