Is Going Direct Really Cheaper Than A Broker Or Price Comparison For Small Business Insurance?

The UK media is currently awash with advertising slogans from direct commercial insurance companies targeting small business owners in an attempt to make them switch their provider of business insurance.

‘Get 12 months cover for the price of ten’ and ‘You won’t find us on price comparison websites’ are typical of the slogans emanating from these companies, in a language more akin to the selling of car insurance than the traditional professional and almost stoic approach to the selling of business insurance cover.

In the current recession, price has become the determining factor in winning the war of market share for all goods and services and insurance is no exception. Prudent small businessmen and women are looking to cut costs in all areas of their business and the large direct insurance companies are well aware of this.

The large insurers are also aware that the UK market has over five million small businesses of which a fifth are sole traders, self-employed and people working from home, many of whom are familiar with purchasing their personal insurance direct with the provider, either by phone or on the Internet.

There are three types of provider in the current market for business insurance in the UK.

Intermediaries such as insurance brokers and agents, price comparison sites and direct commercial and business insurers.

Each has their own advantage and disadvantages, however whether one distribution channel is cheaper than another is often a subjective view from a particular trade, or dependent upon factors many of which cannot be quantified in price.

Direct Insurance companies claim to be able to offer cheaper polices because the cut out the costs of the middleman. It is certainly true that direct insurers do not have to pay an intermediary for the cost of the lead or introduction, however it is questionable whether this cost saving is actually reflected in the prices offered to the public.

Certainly there are economies of scale to be made by centralising the life-cycle of a policy from sales point to claim and renewal, however all those functions that are performed by an intermediary still have to be carried out in-house by the direct company and these have a cost.

Many large composite insurers often have distinct direct divisions with their own target market and premium rates. The same company may also have a broker or intermediary division or channel.

It is quite often the case that a large broker with a large book of business of, for example, small builders liability, will receive much more preferential rates then the same companies direct channel, because that insurance company wishes to retain that brokers clients.

Commercial Insurance brokers then are often able to offer preferential rates because they have more flexible schemes and arrangements than the direct channel.

One of the main benefits of using an insurance broker or intermediary in purchasing commercial insurance for small business, cannot be quantified in price and is worth the commission or fee that they may charge. That is advice, market and product information and knowledge, access to various markets such as Lloyds and some human help if the worst happens to a business and a claim is needed.

A commercial or business insurance broker is often able to negotiate far better claims settlements than if an individual were to deal direct with the insurer. The main reason for this is once again the insurer wishes to retain that brokers share of the total risk pool and will often pay out to a broker on an ex-gratia basis. This cost of this service is not quantifiable at the quote stage where small business cover may well just be valued for the price paid or the covers bought.

The third major way in which small business owners can purchase cover is by visiting a price comparison website. All the major UK comparison sites have recently begun to offer online cover aimed particularly at the small business sector, with under 50 employees. This is in direct competition with the direct insurers for television and media advertising space, aimed in particular at self-employed tradesmen and women who require business liability insurance and perhaps commercial van cover.

The comparison price proposition is that they can compare the market or at least a small section of it, to find the cheapest business insurance. They often do not provide any assistance in the purchasing decision-making process and the reality often is, that the cheapest commercial and small business insurance can be found in one of the other distribution channels.

It is therefore important that a small businessman shops around and takes some time to compare offerings including premiums, covers and services from all three sales channels. Prices tend to vary immensely by trade across the direct, broker and comparison markets and often it is a case of finding the provider or supplier who is the industry leader for a particular business type or trade in order to make large savings.

Why 2013 Saw a Rise in Small Business Sales in California

If you are contemplating selling your business in the state of California, it may interest you to know that business sales for 2013 were up from 2012. Selling a business is a big and sometimes difficult decision. Even so, many business owners find this recent increase in sales to be quite comforting, especially if they want some security to know that there is a stronger market out there for selling. In fact, many potential buyers hope that these positive numbers will induce more businesses on the fence about listing their business will knowing that the market is in a healthier place for business sales in the state.

Small Business Sales Increase in California

The rate of small business sale has increased throughout the Golden State. In 2012, reports show that 14,368 small business operations were sold in total. In 2013, that number grew to 14,764 completed sale transactions. Of course, experts suggest that the increase may not be felt as substantially in some counties as others, which is typically to be expected, but that overall these good numbers reflect a new trend in upward sales that is likely to continue in 2014. Many factors appear to be linked to the increase, but one of the main reasons why these sales are going through is because buyers have better access to funding sources.

Sales in Large Counties Mixed

Some of California’s largest counties may not be feeling the increase yet, but that likelihood could change as more California businesses may be hitting the market for sale in 2014. Certainly, large counties like Los Angeles County are hoping to see more sales as a thriving business-for-sale market is a strong indication of an overall strong economy. Increased business sales are linked to better job growth too. The increase is doubly important in light of the fact that the state was losing businesses at a rate of about five percent.

What is Triggering the Rise?

While better access to money is at the heart of the increase, there may be other factors involved. For instance, experts believe that an improving house market as well as an improved stock market may also be supporting the increase in California business sales. Many small business owners also appeared to be waiting to list their business for sale in California until the market began to shape up.

Do You Have a California Business for Sale or Want to Buy One?

Increases or decreases aside, it can help the process of buying and selling to contract with a business broker. Their services can help viable buyers and sellers to sync up more quickly and effectively. Business brokers stay current with the sale market and understand the ins and outs of the buying and selling process. Their expertise can certainly impact the nature of the sale and the time frame in which a sale can be made. Contact a business broker if you plan to sell your California business or hope to purchase one.

Small Business Marketing

The term market refers to the aggregate of all demand for a particular product or service arising from the aggregate of all consumers – both existing and potential for the product. Markets vary widely from one another since the consumers who constitute the markets vary widely in their characteristics. Even a specific market for a given product is not totally homogeneous.

In small business marketing, a market is split up into several smaller units, each with homogeneous characteristics; it facilitates the effective tapping of the market. Market segmentation is the process of disaggregating the total market for a given product into a number of sub-markets. The heterogeneous market is broken up in the process into a number of relatively homogeneous units.

The process is based on the recognition that any given market or consumer group is made up of a number of subgroups distinguished by varying needs and buying behavior. Also, it is feasible to disaggregate the consumers into suitable segments in such a manner that the characteristics of the segmented groups would vary significantly among segments but would also be identical within segments.

Market segmentation confers several benefits on the marketing man. In the first place, it helps him distinguish one customer group from another within a given market and thereby enables him to decide which segment of the market should form his target market. It also enables the effective crystallization of the specific needs of the buyers in the target market and facilitates an in-depth study of the characteristics of the buyers.

When the buyers are approached after careful segmentation, responses that are predictable would be forthcoming from them. This would help the marketing person develop his marketing program on a predictable and reliable basis. When the needs and characteristics of the customer group have been brought into a clearer focus, marketing offers that are most suited to the particular customer group can be easily developed.

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