Thursday, 19 August 2010

ARAG intends to stay No.1

The Insurance 360 report on the legal expenses market gave our products and services another class-leading endorsement with a decisive thumbs-up from brokers. Believed to be the largest and most independent detailed survey of broker perceptions to date, it delivers a blueprint for all legal expenses insurance (LEI) providers to improve their products and services.
Not only was ARAG “ranked number one on overall service and product capability, with an 80% overall score” ARAG was ranked “best in the business in four of the seven service themes.” The top-class standard covers that we provide were praised for being “backed by expert, commercially capable people who could readily adapt them to brokers’ specific needs. ARAG was on the ball with technology, efficient on renewals and pro-active in business development

In summary the report reads“ARAG beat major competitors such as DAS and Abbey Legal by a country mile” and while this is fantastic, what is important for us, is to ensure we maintain this lead over competitor by continuing to improve. We are now working on all the action-points suggested in the report.

The big surprises are the size of the gap between the our team at ARAG,voted as the best, and worst performers, and the clear message that there are some providers that excel across the board and others that perform badly, or merely averagely, in all areas. The summary by the report’s author, in Post Magazine illustrates this succinctly.

Clearly, some providers have a much longer way to go than others and improvement will take a long and determined effort to bear fruit. We know that they are already taking a keener look at what we have been doing but whilst ARAG easily topped the overall rankings -- and was consistently way above the average in all categories -- a couple of areas were highlighted where improvements can be made: more training is being asked for together with wider access to an enhanced web quote facility.

“ARAG is largely on top of its game but it needs to stay there”We have already taken action to meet requests for more training for broker staff and are tackling issues on the quick quote system. It was praised for what it could do but more brokers need to use it, and we recognise that it currently stops short of issuing the policy. We intend to take it full cycle. Web quotes were an Achilles Heel for most LEI providers.

“Several large, long-established legal expenses insurers are delivering mediocre service and uninspired products”
The survey identified 20 LEI providers and the report covers the seven most-used providers in detail (the Post Magazine summary omits the “relatively small player” Composite and “last in every area of service” First Assist). After ourselves, the overall rankings are: Composite, MSL, Allianz, DAS, Abbey and First Assist. The ARAG team will supply chapter and verse to anyone who asks. Incidentally, three-quarters of the brokers surveyed were independents.

So what are the problem areas for these LEI companies? Claims handling and development support were particularly weak, with the quality of legal advice lines and document wordings, including that of policies, being notably deficient. Some providers managed to get it wrong in every area.

Whilst we at ARAG seem to have got most things right, anything that is noted as being less-than-excellent gives room for improvement.
So, on claims, there is a suggestion that we should be quicker to accept liability especially as our speed of response won high praise: something to look at, certainly.
More help with training broker staff? Agreed.
Development support generally? Mostly a case of targeting fruitful opportunities from brokers looking to change providers or try something new.
Renewals? Some tweaking possible.
Our “top-notch” standard covers? We are always looking at new ideas and ways to adapt them for niche markets.
Documentation and legal advice? Both strong scorers, but some minor niggles have made us double-check.

“ARAG gave brokers a thoroughly convincing performance”
The report gives an extremely positive view of our work and especially commends the commitment and knowledge of the people delivering the service. We are using its creative critiques to do better still.

“For all-round excellence in legal expenses insurance, no other large scale provider came close”
Next year’s survey promises to be bigger and better. Let’s see who has upped their game and whether the report’s prediction that “unresponsive, inward-looking LEIs are set up to sink” has come true. Many thanks to all the brokers who took part and my suggestion to them is that if anything can be done to make improvements, don’t wait until next year, tell us now.

Tony Buss
Managing Director

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