UK SME Insurance: Distribution Dynamics 2017

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"UK SME Insurance: Distribution Dynamics 2017", looks at how SMEs buy insurance coverage and the reasons behind their purchasing decisions. This report also examines the services SMEs are currently receiving and the additional amenities they would like from their provider going forward. Other influential factors are also taken into consideration, such as the age of the business owner and the age of the business.

With insurers increasingly seeking to grow their share of the SME market competition has continued to increase over the past year. Further advances in technology have allowed for products to become more specialized, allowing for niche markets to be targeted more accurately. Brokers have remained the most used channel when purchasing insurance, yet their share of the SME market has decreased significantly in 2017. Purchasing both directly from the insurer and via price comparison websites have increased. Insurance companies also continue to provide an increasing variety of products that cater specifically for the smallest of SMEs. Given that businesses of this size represent the majority of SMEs by number, the growth of non-brokered purchasing channels is unsurprising.


– Purchasing insurance online via a PC remains the most common method across SMEs, with 33.1% using this method in 2017.

– Commercial insurance renewal rates are significantly higher in comparison to personal lines, with the overwhelming majority of SMEs remaining with their current provider in 2017.

– Younger businesses are embracing technology when purchasing their insurance, with the use of tablets and smartphones highest among business that have operated for less than two years.

Reasons to Buy

– Identify the most prominent sales channel for SMEs.

– Adapt/re-evaluate your distribution strategy and proposition to meet the needs of modern consumers.

– Discover the factors influencing SME purchasing decisions and distribution channel selection.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


1.1. Market summary 2

1.2. Key findings 2

1.3. Critical success factors 2


2.1. Introduction 7

2.1.1. The value of SMEs to the UK economy 7

2.2. The dominance of brokers is under threat 8

2.3. Medium-sized businesses favor brokers 9

2.3.1. Micro-sized businesses continue to shift towards purchasing direct 10

2.3.2. Small businesses are increasingly purchasing directly from insurers in 2017 13

2.3.3. Banks have lost market share among medium-sized businesses 16

2.4. SMEs rely heavily on technology when purchasing products 18

2.4.1. SMEs purchasing insurance policies favor PCs 18

2.4.2. Young companies are embracing the use of technology 20

2.4.3. Face-to-face purchasing increases in popularity in line with the age of the business 21

2.4.4. Older owners avoid modern technology as a purchasing method 22

2.5. Few SMEs struggle to understand their insurance policies 23

2.6. SME pre-purchase activity 25

2.6.1. Contacting existing provider 25

2.6.2. The potential for customer retention is high 26


3.1. The majority of SMEs remain with the same provider 28

3.2. Sole traders are sensitive to price changes when renewing 29

3.3. Micro enterprises (excluding sole traders) have a high retention rate 30

3.4. Small enterprises are keen to save on price when renewing 31

3.5. Medium enterprises have a high degree of loyalty to providers 32

3.6. Premium prices are the biggest influence when deciding to switch 34

3.6.1. Premium prices are key to customer retention 36

3.7. Services provided by insurers 37

3.7.1. A simple policy explanation is a key service required by SMEs 37

3.8. The most common added-value service used by SMEs is legal advice 40

3.8.1. Openness to receiving services is dependent on SME size 42


4.1. Definitions 45

4.1.1. SME 45

4.2. Methodology 45

4.2.1. GlobalData’s 2017 UK SME Insurance Survey 45

4.3. Further reading 46


List of Tables

Table 1: Methods used when purchasing travel insurance, 2017 20

Table 2: Activities undertaken prior to purchasing insurance, 2017 27

Table 3: Actions undertaken by SMEs at the time of renewal, 2017 33

Table 4: Reasons for switching insurance provider, 2017 36

Table 5: The most important additional services insurers can provide, 2017 40

Table 6: Percentage of SMEs receiving additional services, 2017 42


List of Figures

Figure 1: The use of brokers in 2017 is significantly lower than previous years 8

Figure 2: SMEs of all sizes favor the broker channel 10

Figure 3: Direct purchasing among micro enterprises has risen at the expense of brokers 11

Figure 4: The broker channel is most commonly used across policies for sole traders 12

Figure 5: The use of banks features more prominently for micro businesses excluding sole traders 13

Figure 6: Brokers and banks have lost out in the small enterprise space 14

Figure 7: Small enterprises’ private medical and cyber insurance purchasing is dominated by brokers 15

Figure 8: Brokers dominate insurance purchasing among medium-sized enterprises 16

Figure 9: Brokers dominate across all policies for medium enterprises 17

Figure 10: Using a PC is the most common method for purchasing insurance 19

Figure 11: New businesses embrace technology when purchasing 21

Figure 12: The proportion purchasing face to face increases in line with business age 22

Figure 13: Younger business owners are more likely to use technology in the purchasing process 23

Figure 14: The majority of SMEs understand their insurance policies 24

Figure 15: Contacting existing providers remains the most common action 26

Figure 16: Sole traders are most likely to switch to a new provider 29

Figure 17: Price plays an instrumental role when sole traders renew insurance 30

Figure 18: Retention of micro enterprises (excluding sole traders) averages 81% 31

Figure 19: Small enterprises are highly conscious of insurance prices 32

Figure 20: The overwhelming majority of medium sized enterprises remain with their current insurer 33

Figure 21: The new provider’s premium prices are the most common reason for switching 35

Figure 22: A simple explanation of the policy is the most important service for the smallest SMEs 38

Figure 23: Small and medium enterprises also rank simple policy explanation as the most important service 39

Figure 24: Legal advice is the most popular added-value service among all SMEs 41

Figure 25: Sole traders do not value additional services 43

Figure 26: Small and medium enterprises are most open to receiving new services 44

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