Money reveals its 2021 Insurer of the Year

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INSURER OF THE YEAR: BUDGET DIRECT

Budget Direct continues to hold the top spot as it consistently offers among the lowest-priced rates in most of the markets in which it competes. And in markets where it isn't the lowest, it's seldom outside the top three.

This sharp pricing has seen it record one of the fastest rates of premium inflow growth among insurers in Australia - 24% a year, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

consumer finance awards 2021 insurer of the year

What distinguishes Budget Direct is its singular focus on digital marketing and client feedback (which it uses to guide product development), as shown by its extraordinary ability to get customer ratings.

On the independent Product Review website it gets 10 times the rating of its nearest competitor.

Budget Direct doesn't insure everybody, but this is one of the reasons its premiums can remain low.

Combined with its national repairer network, it builds a value proposition that is hard to beat. Budget Direct is also the insurer behind the offerings of Australia Post, ING and Virgin Money.

Alex Dunnin, head of research at Rainmaker, says Budget Direct is a smooth operation.

"The insurance market is brutally competitive with property insurance premiums going up because of climate events. Reinsurers are screwing down on insurers and at the same time the insurers are trying to keep prices as low as possible. Since last year, Budget Direct has had such a great success as a great digital offering it's encouraging a lot of other insurers to focus on their digital offerings."

Jonathan Kerr, chief growth officer at Auto & General, the policy underwriter, says at Budget "we take pride in being able to deliver the full-product service and deliver to the expectations of the customer at a lower price".

The market is becoming more competitive with more options now than there were five or six years ago.

"Many competitors are doing things which probably add complexity and confusion to the customer. We really focus on comprehensive car insurance - you know what you get and tailor it to your needs.

"We are very focused on correctly pricing the risk to the individual and what that means is we have a laser focus on that. We are more responsive to pricing to genuinely good risks.

"I feel that this award is like going to the Olympic Games five times in a row and still winning the gold medal. Once you put together a run of wins everybody is chasing you, the competition gets harder and harder. So the ability to be the Michael Phelps of insurance, to go back and win again and again ... the honour just gets bigger."

Allianz came second in this category. It is the insurer behind Aussie, Hume Bank and National Australia Bank.

Allianz is a full-service insurer that was named  Best Value Home & Contents Insurer in Money's 2021 Best of the Best awards.

Allianz is offering a range of discounts to attract new customers and challenge the market leader's dominance: Allianz's premiums business is growing at 4%pa while Budget Direct is managing 24%pa.

Suncorp, in third spot, is the insurer behind some of Australia's best-known insurance brands: AAMI, Bingle, Carpeesh, GIO, RACQ and Real Insurance.

WHY THEY WON

Consistently sharp pricing resulting in highest take-up of premiums of any insurer.

TOP PRODUCTS

Comprehensive car insurance is the main focus in this category.

RANKINGS

1. Budget Direct

2. Allianz

Suncorp

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