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Consumers generally think they benefit when they buy insurance direct but is it true?

Why do consumers hate the middle man?

Primarily, customers perceive any middle man as an unnecessary third party, and conventional wisdom dictates that this means additional cost and possibly mistakes. Advertising by insurers, for example, to ‘go direct’ has compounded this feeling.

What is important to consumers?

In order of importance, these are the things people customers feel that matter to them:

  1. Cost.
  2. Ease.
  3. Speed.
  4. Peace of mind that everything is covered.
  5. Security of personal data.

1. Cost

Contrary to popular consumer belief the broker pricing is actually better than direct insurance pricing.
The reason for this seems to be principally due to insurers providing different rates to brokers, in order that premiums are lower. Why would insurers provide special broker pricing? Simple: because the risk is lower for the insurer. Brokers are professionally trained to choose the right policy for their customers, and not to under insure, therefore avoiding unnecessary claims while maintaining the correct premium income.
‘Cutting out the middle man’ it seems, does not save money this time. On the contrary!

2. Ease

Customers have the impression that buying policies directly would be the easiest option for them. Whilst the online experience usually is more pleasant than the phone, most brokers offered offline service, and were far, far more pro-active after they received the initial quote request from the consumer, often answering queries by personal email or call and helping to reassure customers with a human service. Furthermore, most direct services completely fell down when queries or changes were required that were less common, particularly later in the policy life cycle including handling of claims as it was nobody’s baby. Brokers really shine through here.

3. Speed

In the case of the time taken to generate initial quotation figures, direct services (online) are consistently very quick, while brokers answer quote by personal follow up.
The difference however was somewhat reversed when it came to mid term changes, documentation requests and one off queries. The direct services often fall back to large call centres whose staff had little or no real insurance knowledge. In this areas brokers are more efficient, making suggestions were consumers found highly useful, saving them lots of time.
The speed at which quotes are produced by the direct services is not significant to consumers when compared to the speed and efficiency with which brokers generally manage their policies throughout the policy life cycle.

4. Peace of mind that everything is covered

Brokers were largely far more efficient at cross checking policies than consumers, and also very good at educating their customers, explaining what types of cover were available and answering queries.
Direct processes were better than in the past but put too much focus on the consumer to do this work himself/herself to be able to compete with the level of service provided by brokers.
The really good Direct services centred around only covering the low risk policies, and leaving any consumer with non-standard requirements high and dry.

5. Security of personal data

In the case of Internet based services, the direct services tended to follow security guidelines marginally better than broker services, mainly due to the size of the organisations involved and lack of good software on the part of some brokers.
On the phone however, we see a different story. Brokers, being far better equipped to deal with specific insurance questions and used to a human discussion, gave people a stronger feeling that they were in safe hands. The process of securing personal data was much the same as with direct, but the trust conveyed by brokers was better.


Whilst conventional wisdom dictates that the middle man offers little to the discussion and always has his price, in the complex world of insurance, perhaps things are not so simple, and after doing some research we are now more certain than ever that the Insurance Broker’s day is far from over.
Our recommendation to all would be to trust your broker, let him shop for you, and you will likely reap dividend, whilst living an easy life!