Insurance Companies: What do Small Business Owners Really Think?

It might not come as a surprise that the UK insurance industry is failing to meet the expectations of small business customers. But what can be done about it, and where to start? After asking customers what they really think about insurance, one insurance company started a campaign to bring it into the 21st century.

The principles and practices underpinning the insurance industry were developed a long time ago – so long ago that it has become too complex for its own good. As learnt from recent stories within the banking sector, complexity is often born out of unaccountability. The insurance sector too is in danger of being perceived to be an industry of ‘fat cats’. This is why a public debate is in order so that the issues important to SMEs can be aired and insurance companies can find out what small business owners really think.

It’s clear that the current model is archaic, one more suited to the 17th century than present day, but transforming an increasingly flawed and mistrusted sector can’t be done alone. This is why Simply Business have started the conversation to tackle the problem and bring to the front of peoples’ minds.

Outdated and Confusing

Having spoken to their community, they found that just one in ten small business owners said they received clear and concise information when speaking to insurers and 75 per cent found written documents hard to understand. When asked to sum up the industry, they felt it was ‘outdated, exclusive and confusing’ – a description that didn’t sit well with us, but wasn’t a surprise.

The findings:

  • Only one in ten received clear information from their insurer
  • 75 per cent found insurance documents hard to understand
  • A third had a negative claims experience
  • 75 per cent found insurance websites difficult to use

This is the viewpoint of the business insurance sector’s most important critics – the customers – so it’s vital that they get to the heart of these issues in order to bring real improvement to insurance. They’ve recently launched a pledge to act on the big problems identified using the first ever crowd-sourced customer Manifesto.

Listening and Improving

This Manifesto is the result of a long period of listening, and it represents the first step in another period of learning. Focused on the attributes customers are starting to demand from insurers: Simplicity, Honesty, Human and Listening, it’s far more than just words on paper – the Manifesto cements their ongoing commitment to shake up and revolutionise the sector.

They uncovered further dissatisfaction in a range of areas, including industry jargon (22 per cent) and complexity of documents (26 per cent), with experiences described as “impersonal” and “outdated”.

Perhaps most worryingly, the survey revealed that almost half (39 per cent) of small businesses found buying insurance online too time-consuming, and three quarters (74 per cent) admitted to finding websites difficult to navigate. 

This Manifesto is the start of a new conversation with the rest of the insurance industry to ignite tangible change. The insurance company who conducted the conversation are by no means saying that they have all the answers, but say that they do want to take their commitments forward as an opportunity to start an open conversation. It’s not about them preaching. It’s about starting a conversation. This represents a clear call to action for the sector to move away from the inaccessible and outdated ‘old boys’ network’ the insurance industry has become synonymous with. It is an acknowledgement that insurers are often failing customers, and that in turn they must step up and pledge to improve the industry together.

Simply Business want to make life easier for every single one of the UK’s small businesses, whether or not they are insured with us. To that end, we hope that the pledges we have made will give our competitors pause for thought too.

Share your thoughts at #SimplyVoice.

*Online questionnaire completed by 500 small business owners from the Simply Business customer community in August 2013. The questions were in reference to the full consumer insurance experience, including both personal and commercial lines.

Simply Business insures over 250,000 UK SMEs and owing to its internal underwriting capability can cover over 1,000 trade types. It has been a Sunday Times Tech Track 100 company for the past three years and was recently named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA. Revenues have grown from £4.2 million in 2006, to £22.9 million in 2012.

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