Or, some general thoughts on Austbrokers Terrace and our website, the Insurance Broking game, Insurers in general, the market now and in the future, and other miscellaneous stuff!
Operating a website is fundamental for any business these days, and Austbrokers Terrace is no exception.
Our first crack at a website was 6 or 7 years ago and was, to say the least, very basic. It showed the online world we existed and what we did, but little more. It also limited our embarrassment if a friend, colleague or client attempted to find us by searching on Google.
Our latest incarnation is hopefully a step or three up from those simple beginnings.
You’ll notice it provides more detail on what we do and how we do what we do, it introduces our entire team to clients and would-be clients, and it digs deeper into some of the areas in which we specialise. It also links to our parent AUB, is strategically themed to promote our branding, and provides some useful and interesting blog articles for readers to digest.
Our website is, in fact, a fair reflection of how our business has grown and developed. Yet, even as rapidly evolving IT systems control the fate of business more and more, much of what we do every day remains unchanged. Completely unchanged!
The Broking Game
Google a definition of ‘broker’ and you get the following -
Noun: A person who buys and sells goods or assets for others.
synonyms: dealer, broker-dealer, agent, negotiator, trafficker;
Verb: Arrange or negotiate (an agreement).
synonyms: arrange, organize, orchestrate, work out, thrash out, hammer out settle, clinch, contract, pull off
A couple of points stand out and are worth noting. We negotiate terms on behalf of others and we work for our clients, not the insurance companies.
We arrange insurance on behalf of our clients so they can get on with the all-important ‘life’ stuff that happens every day and, yes, from time to time we will be demanding with the insurers on behalf of those clients.
Negotiation is a vital component of getting the best outcomes but you can’t negotiate the ‘best deal’ if you don’t have an understanding of what the best deal is in the first place. Brokers have the experience to know what the other party will find acceptable or unacceptable; which areas to push and when to tread lightly; what is vital and what is extraneous; what is fair and what is unreasonable. This ability is priceless for our clients, many of whom would, we’re sure, feel like they’re in a giant maze if Austbrokers Terrace wasn’t working with them to navigate the best course.
Rationalisation has been the catch cry of the insurance industry over the last decade. Principally, there are five main General insurers that dominate the Australian landscape – QBE, CGU, Zurich, Allianz and Vero. There was a time not so long ago when there were three times this number, but now only the biggest survive.
Insurers though, by nature, want to thrive as well as survive. This means they will change course strategically from cutting premiums in an attempt to increase their market share to ‘doing a 180’ and declining business or increasing rates overnight when profit is their main focus. This push and pull of market share versus profit dictates the ‘peaks and troughs’ market that has dominated the insurance landscape for decades.
As an insurance broker, Austbrokers Terrace is fully aware of the companies with whom we deal and the global or local strategies that dictate their behavior at any point of time.
Given the fewer insurers you’d think brokers would have less phone calls to make, less negotiating to do, and less work to undertake on behalf of their clients. But, you’d be wrong. The reduction in the ‘big’ players has seen a multitude of specialist or niche’ suppliers spring up almost overnight. And, in a bid to make an immediate impact, they are more than capable of wrestling business from the ‘big 5’.
The average person seeking insurance is usually blissfully unaware of these variations. But at Austbrokers Terrace it’s a vital part of our business to understand the market so we always provide the best solutions – if we don’t, then we’ve failed our clients.
Finally, for many complex businesses, solutions are sourced from overseas, in particular the Lloyds market in the UK. Austbrokers Terrace has direct access to these markets and has, in fact, placed significant risks overseas. This is a market that’s unreachable without the expertise of a broker.
What about the future?
In terms of insurance, our industry, like many, has been impacted by the online revolution. As we become more (or less) comfortable with the ease of negotiating and transacting business online from our laptops, tablets and even mobile phones, we often sacrifice knowledge for ease. This happens more and more as online insurance providers peddle their wares on the back of endless, expensive marketing campaigns.
So, why not tap away on the home keyboard and insure my assets in a few minutes instead of contacting an insurance broker. I don’t have to endure any back and forth to make sure they understand what I need to be insured, and I don’t have to waste an hour or so of my precious time.
While the above seems a fair observation, what about the following all-too-familiar scenario...
I tap away on the home keyboard and insure my assets in just a few minutes. But, I don’t really understand what covers I have taken, I forget to tick a box or two, I miss the options section altogether and, having paid a significant sum of money, realise too late that I ‘stuffed it up’ when my $20,000 claim gets knocked back!
Furthermore, even if I feel ‘ripped off’, because I’m dealing direct with a massive company I don’t have the resources to take them on.
This may seem like scare mongering but, in fact, is total realistic when you’re purchasing without a complete understanding of not only what you’re buying but what you should be buying. Austbrokers Terrace’s clients use our services to spare themselves this predicament.
We’re aware online shopping is here to stay but, while we all enjoy easy access to EBay, Amazon, Gumtree and the like, there’s a significant difference; the vast majority of buyers understand exactly what they’re purchasing. But, with insurance products – we’re not so sure!
Let’s conclude with some miscellaneous ‘bits and pieces’.
Insurance broking is, by and large, a profession that one falls into rather than one you aspire to from an early age.
We imagine there are few boys or girls that lay in bed gazing out a window or looking at the ceiling in the darkness harboring desires to be insurance professionals! That’s still the domain of astronauts, rock stars, fashion designers and possibly lawyers and doctors.
Yet, once you’re in this industry what we can say is this. We get to help others in a very real way every day, whether it’s arranging the right insurance cover or assisting with the stress of a claim. Helping others always feels good!
Our Austbrokers Terrace team has been thrown together by nothing more than randomness, and yet our comradery and care for each other is as real as anything we do and, hopefully, it’s felt by our clients in some small way.
Finally, we generate enough profit that we contribute significantly to a variety of charities, the most notable being The Smith Family, well known for its tireless work with disadvantaged youth.
While we’re immensely proud of this, none of it would be possible unless our clients chose us to take responsibility for their insurance needs. So, most of all, we thank them!