Trade Me expands its reach in the financial services market, selling general insurance underwritten by Tower

Trade Me is deepening its reach in the financial services market, with its launch of Trade Me Insurance today.

Tower Insurance will underwrite Trade Me Insurance’s home, contents and car insurance, which it has started selling direct online.

Trade Me chief executive officer Jon Macdonald says the new offering has been tailor-made with Tower.

“Trade Me Insurance has been built from scratch. It combines our knowledge of building useful online experiences with Tower’s financial strength and 140 years of insurance experience. Everything’s new – the products, the website, the pricing and the customer service.”

MacDonald says Trade Me Insurance is part of the company’s foray into financial services.

“This seemed like a natural extension for us into an area where we could do something to change things up.”

Trade Me acquired the life insurance comparison website, LifeDirect, in 2013 and bought a 15% stake in peer-to-peer lender, Harmoney, in January.

Tower’s chief executive officer David Hancock says, “We’re focused on meeting changing customer expectations around insurance online, and investing heavily in the development of digital infrastructure.

“What’s most exciting about Trade Me Insurance is that it offers general insurance customers an end-to-end digital solution from quote to claim, and gives customers greater flexibility and choice.”

Quick, easy online insurance trend

Trade Me Insurance general manager, Conor Sligo, says the thing that separates Trade Me from other online insurance providers is the breadth of its services.

While some insurers require you to contact them directly to get cover for the likes of a heritage home or expensive jewellery, he says Trade Me Insurance allows you to insure these kinds of items online.

He says customers will be asked enough questions to ensure they don’t fall into the trap of having their claims denied due to not disclosing important details when taking out policies.

Sligo says the claims side is designed to be primarily managed online too, and customers can manage their cover, excess and so on through the website.

As well as convenience, Trade Me Insurance is pushing competitive pricing. It’s offering existing Trade Me members a “15% discount on premiums from day one”.

Sligo says, “I think price is really important to people – that’s just a fact of life. But what people really want is that kind of peace of mind, so you need that quality as well.

“A race to the bottom on price is definitely not good for consumers as they’ll just end up disappointed at claim time. We’ve tried to strike that balance between a really well priced product and one that’ll do what you need it to if you need to make a claim.”

NZI not going to buckle to price war

New Zealand’s largest insurance intermediary, NZI, says it’s refusing to buckle to a price war with its competitors.

NZI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insurance Australia Group (IAG), which sells personal and business insurance through a network of brokers.

Its general manager of commercial sales, John Chandler, told those gathered at the Risk Rendezvous insurance conference in Auckland on Wednesday NZI wasn’t going to “chase the fast dollar”.

He said there’s never been more competition in the industry.

Youi, Countdown and The Warehouse are among NZI’s competitors.

Chandler said there’s a trading environment “hell-bent on customer acquisition – almost at any price it seems. In an environment where new players continue to enter, bringing new models and high hopes.

“That makes for considerable churn and challenge in the marketplace, with massive swings in value and cash flow becomes king, as participants try to chase the top dollar.

“Along with that, comes some expectation that the large players such as ourselves, who haven’t chased that market as hard, will have to come to the party. Well we’re not going to.

“We don’t actually believe that a discount environment is in sync with risk profile and the realities of the New Zealand economy and the challenges that business face.

“You price for what you protect. You don’t price for what you don’t have to protect.”