CEO UK Ant Middle takes a moment to reflect on what was a memorable year for our business in the UK.
In 2020 our people rose to the challenge of carrying out their roles remotely, from home. Throughout, they continued to deliver a consistently high level of service and went above and beyond what was expected to deliver a great customer experience.
Going the extra mile was taken quite literally by a UK claims engineer seeing that a car needed repairing urgently. When it was clear the car needed a part that was difficult to locate, the engineer personally found the part, drove to collect it, paid for it personally, and then returned it to the garage, to ensure that the customer was back on the road as quickly as possible.
We also adopted a flexible approach towards customers adapting our products. To highlight just a few examples: travel policies were automatically extended for those customers who found themselves stranded abroad, covering also medical claims related to COVID-19; different payment options were offered to customers facing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-restrictions; and a fully online claims experience allowed customers to record claims directly through webforms. And on top of this we made ourselves constantly available to respond to questions and concerns through, among other things, our special website hub.
It is times like these that also test the strength of partnerships and we are proud of the speed at which our broker partners were able to adapt with us. The pandemic brought new challenges that we are all trying to navigate, whether that be product coverage, new travel risks, or changing patterns of motor use. So, it was important we leaned in, kept in tune with changing customer demands and innovated together.
Working with insurance broker Marmalade, we launched a new ‘Pay As You Go’ (PAYG) offering, providing a cost-effective policy option for drivers covering less than 3,500 miles per year, made possible through specialist smartphone telematics technology.
Turning our attention more broadly to society, we haven’t forgotten the importance of compelling causes at this challenging time, funding both community and national initiatives, such as the Association of British Insurers’ COVID-19 Support Fund and our funding of research around treatments for the virus. And we continued to support our employee-nominated charity, Rays of Sunshine, helping to make a difference to a very special group of people.
We continued to make very good progress in delivering against our core strategy Connect21. This fell into three main categories: leveraging technology to the benefit of our customers; enhancing the customer experience; and building on the strength of our relationships with brokers and intermediaries.
Our partnership with Tractable – an app that helps us manage the efficiency, speed and effectiveness of our claims handling of car repairs, moved from a successful pilot into an award-winning part of the way we operate our claims handling as standard. We revitalised the front end of our business, refreshing all our customer websites and portals to allow customers to interact with us more easily.
Our award-winning Green Parts programme also showed its worth in 2020 and its integration into our claims handling process has been a win-win for the environment, the customers, and the business, reducing the number of write-offs, cutting claims costs, and improving the customer experience.
And finally, given that brokers and intermediaries represent some 85% of the business we do today, we have enhanced the relationships with our regional brokers through the introduction of Ageas Broker Connect video account management.
In 2021 we will continue to robustly work our way through the pandemic and emerge strongly from it. We will bring even greater focus to the business and concentrate on the areas where we really can win in the UK market. And we will continue to invest in our technology capabilities and to sharpen our customer service even more on those important moments of truth generating even greater efficiency to be able to support our competitive pricing position. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor Andy Watson for his tremendous contribution over the last seven years.