Ensurance Expanding into Europe
Leadership in the Asia Pacific - Australia
As an insurance broker, underwriting agency and IT provider, Ensurance has expanded from Australia to international markets. Stefan Hicks, managing director at Ensurance Ltd., gives us an insight into how the company operates.
Ensurance started life as a general insurance brokerage in 1990 in Perth, Western Australia. In 2003, the company set up national headquarters in Sydney. Listing on the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) in 2015, Ensurance Limited is the parent company to three entities; the brokerage (retail), an underwriting agency (wholesale) and an IT company that develops all of our innovated IT solutions. We have recently announced the opening of our London office, signalling the start of UK operations.
Until 2008, the company traded as a normal brokerage when the business first decided to outsource the development of our own bespoke software to increase in-house efficiencies. It was a major success that has allowed Ensurance to dramatically reduce staff, whilst growing its revenue. From there, it was obvious that the company should develop its advice driven IT solutions to be front facing so the client had 24-hour access to our products and services, and in turn, this massively decreased the acquisition costs through automated administration. Since then, Ensurance has continued to invest heavily in developing a global leading IT platform that now provides multiple quotes, usually within two minutes, from multiple insurers, bound, paid and documented usually within seven - ten minutes. All compliance is automated which dramatically reduces associated costs.
Ensurance differs from other insurance comparison sites as the company provides advice and controls the entire transaction. It owns and manages the client with their insurance policies throughout the entire lifecycle. This enables the company to accumulate and book build its revenue at an exponential pace. It also allows Ensurance to white label its IT platforms and provide the complete broking infrastructure to its financial institutional partners without the significant associated expenses.
The client approach which Ensurance has developed is based on consumer expectations as Stefan describes. “Consumers should not need to shop online for an hour or more to research and generate multiple insurer quotes, then becoming confused as to whether they are comparing ‘like for like’ in relation to individual product offerings. We offer a one stop shop providing online, written and verbal advice to assist the customer choosing the product most appropriate for their needs. We are in the business of automating as much of the insurance purchasing process as possible depending on the product offering. High volume low margin products are where the most benefit is delivered.”
Stefan Hicks, our Managing Director, explains more about how the firm has helped clients from a wide variety of industries.
“Our online insurance solutions currently target multiple industries within Australia, these include major contributors to the economy including the construction industry and financial services industry, which enable the customer to research and purchase the most appropriate insurance solution based on their own requirements or alternatively offer these solutions to their own clients (White label). We will continue to build online solutions where customers lack choice or easy access to insurance when and where they wish to purchase.”
Ensurance's business strategy is to simplify the insurance transaction for all participants; the consumer, the broker and the insurer. It has executed this by examining all personalised elements of the transaction, which are different for each party. Generally, consumers want an accessible 24/7 advice driven, multi insurer platform that is simple to use, and results in an enjoyable customer journey. Brokers wish to have a platform that reduces the time taken to write new business, hence increasing margins and earnings, and extending their service propositions directly to their clients. Insurers wish to decrease the cost of acquisition, offer their product suite delivery into new channels and simplify ongoing maintenance and management of the client (renewal and claims management). In addition, simplifying, automating and decreasing compliance costs in the transaction is of utmost importance to both the broker and the insurer.
Stefan explains more about Ensurance’s strategy, saying, “Our strategy is focused on the retail consumer and small to medium business sector (SME). These two sectors of the general insurance industry within Australia are the largest combined markets, providing 35% of the industry volume. We believe as a licensed intermediary, our independence and automated advice, combined with support services and strong insurer brands give the customer the confidence in purchasing online insurance. Clients will have an independent insurance specialist who represents them when they need it most.”
Ensurance is in its eighth year of building online support systems, to enable our business to have the most competitive advantage in our target markets. We are able to produce more profit margins and provide more competitive pricing due to this investment. Strong insurer brands also assist as clients are not always looking for the cheapest price, in fact the minority purchase the cheapest solution where the full advice model is in place.
Ensurance has adapted well to the current economic climate. Stefan explains how the company has maintained success in a difficult sector, and what challenges are present in the APAC region.
“The development and implementation of online solutions offering multiple insurer options is in its infancy to the retail and SME customer, it is demanded by the purchaser and very few businesses without adequate licensing arrangements can offer this choice. A strong distribution channel is critical and cross selling benefits within the financial services industry provides this synergy in a range of products.
“The future of the retail and SME Insurance sector will need to offer a combination of online research tools and easy to use online purchasing solutions combined with the appropriate support services. The reducing margins offered in these products do not support traditional distribution methods. Compliance management is also critical and one of the greatest challenges. The automation of a component of the compliance requirements is critical to both the Insurer, intermediary and the customer. This will ensure products are easily accessed and priced commercially for the longer term.”
Since Ensurance was founded, technology has changed dramatically. Stefan tells us what Ensurance has done to adapt to these technological changes and what todays clients expect in contrast to a few years ago.
“Firstly, embracing cloud technology enables the company to scale its operations to any size, whether locally or on a global basis. Also, recruiting our IT experts internationally produces world class code development and the efficient use of business intelligence. It is the challenge of merging these aspects correctly with the stale risk adverse general insurance industry that sets Ensurance apart from its competitors. However, executed accurately, this empowers Ensurance with a first to market advantage in the digital disruption of general insurance.
“Consumers of today are demanding to research, and identify and purchase their own insurance policies through digital mediums 24/7. There are now numerous global industry reports that illustrate the sector is scheduled for massive digital disruption. The manner in which insurance is purchased by consumers will dramatically alter over the short to medium period. The general insurance industry is slow to identify the future transformation and in Ensurance’s opinion, most companies will not survive in their current form.”
Ensurance meets and excels the consumers demands by enabling them to purchase insurance through simple digital online solutions. The firm is not only well placed for this disruption, but is also one of its leaders, and with the level of success the company has already had, Stefan hopes this success can be maintained well into the future.
Company: Ensurance Ltd
Name: Stefan Hicks
Web Address: www.ensurance.com.au