Comparing the insurance market, specialism thrives11 November 2014


11th  November 2014

Sarah Caddy

Having recently blogged on the dearth of innovation in insurance, it seems only fair to give stage to those ‘disruptors’ that have emerged to create new opportunities.

A few years ago, industry experts predicted that specialist insurers would disappear. Insurance was becoming more commoditised, heralded by the advent and potential threat of non-traditional industry players, like Google, which purchased (a one-time Gong client and insurance aggregator) in 2012. Speculation around the internet giant’s threat to the insurance industry through its ability to innovate at speed was well documented (here).

And yet we have witnessed a specialist insurance boom. Players don’t have to go on to aggregator sites to keep costs low. Distribution is key; capturing the various distribution channels is the pathway to success. Carving out space alongside the aggregators in a distribution landscape – which, let’s not forget, many thought would be dominated by aggregators only – are a few stand out specialist brokers, such as Hastings Direct (with its low operating cost base and focus on car, van and motorbike insurance) and Brightside Group (which has grown through acquisition since its launch in 2001 as a provider of motor insurance for small businesses).

So what do these companies bring to the insurance space, to make them grow so successfully? So often it is coming down to marketing and technology.

To focus on one small point, take Simply Business, a UK small business insurance broker. From a twitter account (@simplybusiness) opened in 2008, the firm now has 30.6k followers. These followers are attracted to the specialist content targeted to its SME customer base:


Look too at The BGL Group (@The_BGL_Group; 712 followers) – just named “one of the largest mid-market private companies in Britain”, according to the latest Sunday Times Top Track 250. The firm has turned into a household name, and is set to shake up the life insurance market with a new marketing campaign for Beagle Street.

We may not be able to predict the future of the UK insurance industry, but these companies are proving that it’s not time to chime the death knell yet.