SMEs in the dark over commercial insurance

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New research into the UK SME insurance market highlights gaps and opportunities for insurers and brokers.

New research by DVL Smith’s Evolution into the UK SME commercial insurance market found that 42% of SMEs are aware that they don’t have enough insurance cover and over 70% felt that at least one additional insurance policy would be beneficial in protecting their business from risk. Perhaps more worryingly, 18% of SMEs do not believe they have Employers' Liability cover, despite it being a legal requirement.

When asked what was preventing the purchase of additional products, many cited confusion over the types of insurance cover required, the products offered, price and lack of time.
Jen Del Carlo, Director, DVL Smith said; “It’s well documented that SMEs are time poor and the current economic climate only puts more demands on business owners. From an insurer’s perspective SMEs are clearly a diverse audience with a varied set of needs. SME commercial insurance providers seem to be missing an opportunity to really understand their target customers, and thus we see a gap in terms of current and potential coverage.”

The study also highlighted a lack of awareness of providers (25% of SMEs were unable to name a single insurance provider) and a high level of inertia across the market (85% of renewals are with an existing provider and of those only one third are shopping around for other quotes).

“Inertia can often lead to provider complacency and a lack of consumer choice, but it also presents a fantastic opportunity for an existing provider or new entrant to demystify the market and position itself as the SME customer champion. For those that get it right it is likely to be highly profitable”, comments Siobhan Wallace, Marketing Consultant at Evolution.

About DVL Smith
DVL Smith Ltd operates across three areas: understanding markets and unearthing consumer insights that create value; building marketing strategies that drive growth; and skills and capability development. The three directors, Dr David Smith, Adam Riley and Jen Del Carlo, each combine extensive marketing intelligence expertise with a track record of success as marketing strategy consultants. In 2007 DVL Smith won ESOMAR's prestigious John Downham Award for Excellence in Marketing Intelligence.

About Evolution
Part of DVL Smith’s offer to the market, Evolution was created to provide the insurance industry with access to the latest, actionable insights about their market. Evolution’s model incorporates both primary and secondary research, delivering insights at a fraction of the typical market cost. Drawing on the strategic expertise and industry experience of its consultants, Evolution’s work addresses the key issues faced by business decision makers and forms the basis of effective growth strategies. For more information visit

Notes to editors
The online study of 697 SME owners was carried out in partnership with Research Now in November 2010. The study was conducted with commercial insurance decision makers and key influencers in SMEs. The data has been weighted in line with 2010 Office of National Statistics SME turnover and industry statistics.
For the purpose of this research, an SME is defined as a business with less than £25m annual turnover and with at least 1 employee.
According to ONS data there are approximately 1.4m SMEs in the UK with at least 1 employee and a turnover of less than £25m

Sample report and further report contents available upon request.

For further information please contact:
Siobhan Wallace         0776 921 3922        siobhan(dot)wallace(at)dvlsmith(dot)com
Jen Del Carlo         0788 772 8009         jen(dot)delcarlo(at)dvlsmith(dot)com

Additional points from DVL Smith Evolution research

  •     Spontaneous “brand awareness” of providers is not strong

–25% are unable to name a single provider spontaneously
–~10% of decision makers are unaware who currently provides their insurance

  •     A core set of providers lead the market; likelihood of recommending most providers is relatively low across SMEs

–Aviva, AXA, and Zurich are the clear front runners for brand awareness; this was also mirrored in current providers and likelihood to consider for future

  •     When choosing commercial insurance providers, SMEs say that previous experience, industry expertise, and efficiency in issue resolution are the most important drivers of choice

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