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‘Lucrative’ SME market awaits insurers

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Insurers are not fully exploiting the SME market’s huge potential, with customers hungry for improved online offerings, according to a PWC survey.

About 24% of SMEs make business insurance purchases online, and the low figure may be due to a lack of product variety, the global research shows. Nearly half of SME respondents prefer to buy online and 65% are quite or very likely to do so in the future.

“Our survey confirms there is an unmet demand for digital insurance services, but it’s a complicated story,” the global consultant says.

“Insurers will need to take into account a complex array of needs and preferences. For those that are well prepared, a lucrative new market awaits.”

Merely providing a digital “shop window” is not enough, PWC says. Insurers need to create a fully digitised service, with end-to-end processes and a genuine online operating model.

SMEs want a “consistent and connected digital offering”.

About 36% want to buy a policy online, as well as make claims. More than half want to track their claims digitally and 38% want the online platform to allow policy changes.

Brokers and agents are expected to be part of the online service.

“Insurers should review their overall channel strategy to look at how they can provide a digital offering across each stage of the customer journey, while retaining other channels such as helplines and face-to-face appointments,” PWC says.

“Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning mean that, in the future, human advisers could be replaced by intelligent communication technology.”

The Global Digital Small Business Insurance Survey is based on responses from more than 2100 companies with up to 50 staff in the UK, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, India, the US, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Poland, France, Spain and Switzerland.