Comment - The value of online for SMEs

The insurance industry needs to embrace the opportunities presented by online, says Chris Slater, Simply Business.

Following Ian Gosden’s comments on the SME insurance market earlier this week, here at Simply Business we felt compelled to respond to his claims regarding the risks of selling direct to this large group of UK businesses.

As the largest provider of business insurance in the UK, we appreciate the opportunity that the SME market presents to the industry in 2011 and are aware of concerns that some in the industry may have of an online broker not always providing the best choice and service. However, Mr Gosden’s claims that obtaining quotations online might be dangerous or leave customers without the correct cover are wildly inaccurate.

We have sold around half of our current 165,000 live policies via our website, but we also support this with a UK based contact centre should customers require additional reassurance or information about the cover they might require.

At Simply Business we use a tried and tested series of questions and checks to ensure that every customer understands exactly what policies and level of cover they might require, and to point out any reasons why this might change based on the requirements of a growing and changing business.

Rather than providing inadequate or expensive cover, the use of technology provides opportunities and scale for us to offer competitively priced and tailored insurance for over 1,000 different trades. And we haven’t stopped there, we are constantly striving to increase the pool of insurable trades based on customer requests and feedback.

Mr Gosden is right that SME insurance isn’t like insuring a car, but that doesn’t mean that the process has to be complicated or risky for the business involved. To say that online quotations and purchases are dangerous is short-sighted and underlines much of the problem with some of the insurance industry today. In hardly any other industry is there such reluctance to embrace technology and the opportunities it provides for growth and customer satisfaction. It is not a case of driving down prices and commoditising products but about listening to customer needs and developing agile and flexible services which deliver valuable relationships for customers and the industry.