Home & Contents Insurance Market Open for Business
The home and contents insurance market now offers opportunities for insurance brokers, following a period during which many consumers were directly placing policies with insurers.
Scott Norton, managing director, Norton & Co, says the market has now swung back in brokers’ favour, as consumers increasingly appreciate the value a broker brings.
“While home owners had been buying their insurance online, over the phone or from their bank, the price of policies bought through these channels has risen considerably,” says Norton.
“We’re now seeing premiums bought through direct channels increase by 10-20 per cent, even when policyholders have not made a change,” he says.
The insurance market is constantly evolving, with prices typically rising as competition retreats. Substantial losses caused by catastrophes such as this year’s Queensland floods and the Victorian bushfires also puts pressure on insurers.
“Insurers have made losses in around six of the last 10 years, which means prices have to rise,” Norton says.
As a result, customers are becoming more aware that they need to shop around to find well-priced policies.
“Generally, someone who sees a 10 per cent price hike in their policy without having made a claim will look for a better priced policy,” he adds.
Says Norton: “People sometimes think it will cost them to ask a broker to prepare a quote and so they refrain from using their services. So brokers must let prospective clients know that doing this initial work won’t cost them anything.”
It’s also important prospective clients understand brokers only earn commissions once they have placed a policy, with fees and income fully disclosed to customers.
Also, it’s important for brokers to stress to existing and prospective clients that they are able to compare and contrast the different policies the broker identifies for them. Additionally, it’s the broker that does the legwork finding the right policy, so the client doesn’t have to spend time doing this.
“Different policies also have different features that may suit individual homeowners’ requirements. Brokers are able to suggest policies that meet people’s unique needs,” he adds.
Brokers will also be able to point out different exclusions, limits and excesses for clients, for instance negotiating for certain possessions to be covered when they are not located at the policyholder’s home. Direct customers may not have the same degree of flexibility around these items.
Finally, having a relationship with a broker is a great way to ensure the policyholder receives his or her full entitlement at claim time.
“That’s one of the best benefits a broker can deliver, especially in unfortunate situations such as a total loss when a home is destroyed. Customers really appreciate having someone on their side to ensure they get everything they are entitled to,” Norton explains.
Brokers who may have turned their attentions to other policy areas now have an opportunity to re-look at home and contents insurance and see whether it may once again provide an opportunity to grow their business.