Innovation in insurance
Caroline Currie, Sales Director, Autoline Insurance Group, is responsible for making sure that the company hits its sales targets. With innovation playing a larger role in the insurance market, Ms Currie told NI Business Now how they are staying ahead of the game.
What is the best part of your job?
Without doubt the best part of my job is being part of a company that is leading the market not only in growth in customer numbers, but also
in innovation. We are recognised worldwide for our developments in the area of telematics. Who would have thought that a Northern Ireland Broker would be providing advice and training for multi- national insurers across the world?! Yet despite all this, we remain at heart a people focused business. Our aim is not just to meet, but to exceed our customers’ expectations.
What aspect of your job do you find the most challenging?
One of the biggest challenges has been shrinkage in the Northern Ireland market as insurance companies and brokers are acquired, leaving less choice for the customer. As one of the largest independent brokers in the Province, Autoline has had to respond quickly to market changes, sourcing new insurance providers to enable customers to get the great value for money they have been accustomed to.
What are the key issues facing your sector at the moment?
The financial services market is becoming increasingly impersonal and the message going out to the public is often “we don’t want to talk to you and we certainly don’t want to see you!” It can often be difficult if not impossible, to speak to a human rather than a machine. I think that one of the biggest issues is the public perception that all insurance providers are the same and cheapest is best. It’s only when it comes to making a claim or a change on the policy that the limitations of the policy cover or exorbitant policy fees become apparent. Whilst many customers want the anonymity of an on-line quote, we have found that customers want to be able to sit down face to face to discuss any problems that arise.
How is your organisation responding to these issues?
At Autoline we offer a number of ways for the customer to buy from us. There is an on-line option for the customer who prefers the convenience of a purchase from their own living room. There is a telephone option for the customer who prefers to chat with an advisor. Or there is the face to face option for the customer who prefers to come in to the local branch office. Call, click or come in – the price is the same. Whatever way the customer chooses to buy, our staff are always there to help should the need arise.
Our Commercial customers often prefer to meet with an insurance expert at their own premises, where they have the opportunity to discuss their individual needs. This has been a fast growing area of business for Autoline, and our team of Account Executives travel all over Northern Ireland to give business owners the benefit of their expertise coupled with highly competitive premiums.
What is the biggest goal on your agenda for the year ahead?
We have significant plans to grow the business over the year ahead, providing employment across Northern Ireland and contributing to the local economy. To do this we are all too aware that the Autoline customer experience needs to be better than anything out there. Our aim is to provide the competitive pricing the customer would expect from a large company coupled with the personal service the customer would expect from a small company.
If you had to give one piece of business advice, what would it be?
Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated and you’ll quickly build a bank of loyal customers.
What work experience and qualifications helped you to get to your position?
Prior to joining Autoline I worked my way through the ranks of Zurich Insurance from advisor to Regional Manager.