The British have a useful expression – “horses for courses” – which means, essentially, that certain horses do well on certain racecourses. In business, it means attacking problems with the right approach and tools.
Horses for courses is one way to look at direct selling in commercial insurance. Some commercial insurance policies are extremely complex and require considerable expertise in terms of underwriting and pricing. Some policies, however – particularly those written for small businesses – are relatively straightforward and could lend themselves to direct sales, whether online or through other channels.
There has been a great deal of speculation about direct sales of commercial insurance. At least one commercial insurer, Bermuda-based Hiscox, is currently offering online, direct purchase of insurance for small businesses, and some aggregators are moving into the space. Insurance may be a rare enough purchase so that business owners feel the need for support from an agent, even if the policy itself is fairly simple. Insurers that figure out how to offer a convenient, low-cost direct option for basic small-business coverage – while continuing to work with agents on more complex policies — may be riding the right horse for the small business market.