Interview: John Holm, Asta
Insurers must learn to sell
Despite the many investments being made in innovation by re/insurers, few are
focusing on the one thing that could gain them new business: a more sophisticated
sales process, argues John Holm at Lloyd’s managing general agent Asta.
For all the investments being made by the
re/insurance industry in innovation and
technology, most efforts revolve around the
product or process and there is a glaring lack
of initiative around how insurance can be
better marketed and sold to customers.
That is the view of John Holm, head of
MGA investments at Lloyd’s managing agent
Asta. Holm stresses that, especially given
the lack of growth in the industry in recent
years, more efforts could be made to solve the
problem of underinsurance—and much could
be learned from the world of ecommerce, he
“It seems to me that there is a lot of
competition for existing insurance business but
less of a focus on new business—companies or
individuals that are either underinsured or not
insured at all,” Holm says.
“When I go to conferences, I see a lot
of people talking product, systems, IT and
technology but not as much on how to solve
this problem and sell things better.
“Part of the problem is that insurance has
a public relations issue—it remains a grudge
purchase for most people. No-one wakes up
and wants to buy insurance but I do think it is
possible to address that and potentially open
up a whole new line of growth in the process.”
He says this issue is important for reinsurers
to acknowledge because ultimately any growth
on the insurance end of things will filter
through to them.
“By working together we can get the idea
of selling insurance back on the front foot and
start winning this new business.”
Holm notes that the lack of cyber and
business interruption coverage among small
and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is a
good example of the potential in the market
for growth. But while products are being
devised, the real key will be encouraging
SMEs to better understand the importance
and value of such products.
“Reinsurers have the knowledge and
capacity on products such as this but that’s
just the start,” Holm says. “It must become
the building blocks to drive this and sell the
concept to the underinsured.
“We need an industry-wide initiative,
but the industry is very fragmented and
competitive. I firmly believe that the guys who
get it right and crack the underinsured market
will take their business to a new level and be
He argues that the market could learn
from the approach of the e-commerce market,
which is very sophisticated in its use of
software and technology and using algorithms
to profile and target potential customers.
“They are light years ahead of the insurance
market,” he says.
He adds that while many insurers and
reinsurers have invested in innovation in a variety
of ways, few have anything that focuses on
developing better ways to sell and market products.
One company he notes that is very good is
Lemonade, the US-based insurer that claims
to have a very different business model from
that of traditional insurers, based on a peerto
peer approach and sharing the risks.
“They are changing perceptions about the
way people feel about insurance,” he says.
“They have made it attractive and interesting
and have raised their profile in a very effective
way, although it is still too early to judge whether
this new economic model will be successful.”
MGAs are clearly playing an important
role in encouraging innovation across the
insurance industry. While, for a long period,
the focus has been on market conditions and
cutting costs, recent events such as hurricane
Harvey have exposed the problem of
Now may be the moment when the
market will redirect its attention to providing
more cover for the risks—both natural and
manmade—that the world increasingly faces.
MGAs, with their proximity to their client
base, particularly in niche classes of business,
understand not only the market they operate in
but the threats they are exposed to and should
be at the forefront of solving the problem of
John Holm is head of MGA investments at Lloyd’s
managing agent Asta. He can be contacted at:
“By working together we can
get the idea of selling insurance
back on the front foot.”
22 | BADEN-BADEN TODAY | DAY 2: Tuesday October 24 2017 www.intelligentinsurer.com | www.bermudareinsurancemagazine.com