The importance of quality and value-for-money insurance cover has never been so great, meaning providers are having to offer increasingly competitive policies. In this report, we explore why insurance products should be a mainstay for any reputable mobility equipment dealer.
ON THE PANEL
Alex Wade, business development manager, Mark Bates Ltd
Andy Mellor, head of sales and operations, Fish Insurance
James Nicholls, group sales and compliance director, First Senior Group
Yannick Read, head of communications, ETA Ltd
How important is it for mobility dealers to offer their customers insurance products? How does it benefit both the end-user and the retailer?
Alex Wade: The importance of mobility scooter insurance to our customers cannot be understated. For some it gives them peace of mind to use their scooter without fear of unexpected repair bills or public liability claims. For others, it’s the relief that we’ve got them home when their scooter has broken down or got their equipment fixed following an accident.
Retailers benefit from this positive customer experience, either through referrals from friends and family, repeat business or repair work. The last thing any of us want is for a customer to buy a scooter and for it to sit in their shed unused as they are either too scared to use it or can’t afford to pay for potential repair bills.
Andy Mellor: Recent statistics show that the number of mobility scooter accidents is gradually increasing, yet many people are unaware of the insurance implications resulting from an accident. If a scooter user has an accident without liability cover, they could face a large financial bill arising from both the damage to their scooter and third-party costs.
The reality is that if a pedestrian is injured, they may raise a claim against the driver with subsequent liability for compensation and legal fees. Offering insurance either as part of the cost of a scooter, or as a recommended added extra can highlight to customers that the retailer they are buying from is a reputable seller with their safety and independence in mind.
James Nicholls: I really can’t stress the importance of consumers taking out insurance enough, to prevent the real and increasing expense of liability claims and just as important to keep the end user mobile. Dealers also see a massive benefit to this, not only due to income stream received from the insurance sale and future renewals but also all the ongoing repair work and replacement vehicles.
Another important factor to think about why a dealer should offer insurance is that if most end-users are uninsured there is a real possibility of mandatory insurance being enforced with a lot more regulation. This would not be good for the mobility industry and self-policing is always better.
Yannick Read: Mobility dealers who refer their customers to insurance providers can use it to add value to their own customer service as well as earn commission. However, there is legislation that governs insurance recommendations and referrals so it’s important not to fall foul of these.
How can insurance products impact a retailer’s revenue stream?
Andy Mellor: Retailers can work with Fish Insurance on either an Agent, Introducer Appointed Representative (IAR), or Appointed Representative (AR) level. These levels of relationship give retailers different permissions for offering insurance to their customers, from simply signposting them towards Fish to selling the insurance in-store. All levels of relationship receive a unique dealer code and earn competitive commissions on every sale they refer to us.
Alex Wade: Not only does Mark Bates pay generous levels of commission on any policy purchased in store, but also on all renewal business as well. We also pay commission if a customer takes out one of our other insurance products, whether this be Home, Static Caravan or Travel.
If a customer is claiming on their insurance, the retailer will also get the repair work, covering the costs of parts, callout and labour. Without insurance, customers may either try to fix it themselves, shop around for cheaper alternatives or simply stop using the equipment completely.
Many end-users will look to purchase insurance products based on price. But how important is quality when it comes to policies?
Alex Wade: Every year we deal with thousands of claims, so we know how important it is for people to have the best protection in place when things go wrong. We have always aimed to provide the best policies on the market and also ensure that we have affordable payment options.
We currently have a five-star rating on trust pilot which reflects the quality of our products and in the last 12 months we’ve made significant improvements to our schemes and products, including puncture repair on the Plus Insurance and a comprehensive rewards programme which give customers discounts to high street brands.
Andy Mellor: While many insurance policies will look the same on the surface, it’s important to really dig down into the benefits and exclusions in order to check you’re really being covered for everything you need.
For example, will the customer receive a new-for-old replacement should they have an accident on their scooter? Will the breakdown service provided take them home? What customer service are they going to receive when they pick up the phone to the insurer?
We have been providing insurance policies to those with disabilities, medical conditions, and mobility issues for over 40 years. We are still learning and improving every day, but we’d like to think we’ve fine-tuned our policies over the years and provide a great customer service experience.
James Nicholls: Any products sold into the mobility industry should be priced competitively as obviously most of our clients are on tight budgets. However, service and cover should never be compromised with insurance products and First Senior strives to deliver on both of those fronts whilst maintaining competitive prices.
What kind of challenges do insurance providers face and how do you deal with them?
Alex Wade: People are increasingly wanting more for their money, so we have to ensure that our policies and services keep exceeding expectations and are of the highest standard. Regulation does continue to increase, but as most of it is designed to give consumers greater protection, we try to embrace these changes.
We have recently updated our dealer portal to allow retailers to process applications in-store, providing a smooth and compliant process. Similarly, our customer portal has been upgraded to allow customers to renew existing policies online or to purchase one of our growing portfolio of products through our one-stop-shop. We are extremely positive about 2019.
Andy Mellor: Regulation in the insurance industry is always a challenge. With rules and guidance changing regularly, we must have our eye on the ball to ensure we comply. At Fish Insurance, we have an in-house compliance team that help us to ensure we are treating customers fairly and keeping up to date with the latest changes in regulation.
James Nicholls: First Senior has several big challenges in 2019. Firstly, trying to find ways of keeping prices low in the face of every increasing costs and especially the cost of the ever increasing compliance and regulation. We also have some exciting new finance plans to launch at the end of quarter two.