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SSP Worldwide customers call for revised compensation offer for two-week cloud outage

Insurance brokers urge software house to rethink rebates, in light of the financial toll prolonged cloud outage has taken on their businesses

Insurance brokers are calling on SSP Worldwide to revise its compensation offer for firms affected by its recent two-week cloud outage, claiming it fails to reflect the true financial toll the incident has taken on their businesses.

Computer Weekly understands the company has offered to refund affected brokers that were unable to use its Pure Broking platform during the outage, as well as a further 14-day rebate as a goodwill gesture.

The offer, however, has been rejected outright by some brokers that are still feeling the financial effects of being locked out of the system they use to issue quotes, track renewals and – in some cases – access their company emails.

“It is not adequate for what the outage cost us in lost business and in time for my staff to catch up,” Chris Howell, managing director of Torquay-based Seaway Insurance Consultants (GI) Ltd told Computer Weekly.

“The system has also crashed a few times since it came back on and we only got full usage back last week.”

Another broker, who spoke to Computer Weekly on condition of anonymity, said it too had rejected the offer, describing it as “derisory” and “insulting”.

“It has just added further insult to an already shambolic affair, and – at present – my time is taken up with looking at new providers and replacing SSP,” the broker said.

Computer Weekly understands some brokers have approached the company seeking additional recompense, but have been told SSP is not liable for “consequential losses” incurred as a result of using its software.

In the wake of this response, a number of brokers are known to be in the throes of co-ordinating a group legal action with a view to pursuing the company for further damages, although – at the time of writing – it is unclear how these efforts are progressing.

In a statement to Computer Weekly, an SSP spokesperson said most brokers were satisfied with the size of their rebates.

“The vast majority of affected customers have been satisfied with the offers we have made and we are continuing discussions on an individual basis,” the statement reads.

Post-outage post-mortem          

Senior leaders from SSP met with around 20 insurance brokers on 10 October 2016 to discuss the precautions the company is taking to prevent future outages.

During the meeting, representatives of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) set out their plans to conduct a “full and thorough” review of the disaster recovery strategies of six major insurance software houses, including SSP.

In the wake of the meeting, SSP CEO Laurence Walker released a statement where he acknowledged the company has to regain the trust of the 300 insurance brokers that were left struggling to trade from the onset of the outage on 26 August 2016. 

The downtime was initially caused by power supply problems at SSP’s Solihull datacentre, which was in the process of being decommissioned. The company seized on the issues to speed up its plans to move customers to a newer site, but delays ensued, leaving brokers without access to Pure Broking for around two weeks. 

“We know we have a long journey ahead to re-establish the trust we have lost with these customers and the provision of an appropriate disaster recovery system, which allows them to evidence compliance Financial Conduct Authority regulation is one part of that process,” the statement said. 

“It was clear from the meeting that increased scrutiny from the regulator into this area is timely. There is a disconnect between market expectations and the reality of the facilities provided by software suppliers when it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity.”

The latter comment has been seized on by some brokers as a sign SSP is trying to absolve itself of blame for the outage by suggesting customers may have over-estimated the company’s ability to recover.

Read more about SSP Worldwide

“This is effectively [them] saying the ‘reality of the facilities’ was never up to the job of meeting very basic disaster recovery and business continuity needs,” Neil Kerkhove, a company director at insurance brokerage Warwick Davis, told Computer Weekly.

“We were promised seamless failover to an alternative datacentre should there be a major incident. So was it not reasonable for our ‘market expectation’ to believe that we would be protected? They are trying to shift the blame.”

Kerkhove’s comments were echoed by a number of brokers that have also taken umbrage to Laurence’s decision to outline how little impact the incident has had on SSP’s finances, when so many of them are still dealing with the economic fallout from it.

“Although this incident has been difficult and untimely for both SSP and our customers, we remain in a financially strong position to continue our planned investment in new product and services which are aligned to market requirements and the specific needs of our customers,” the statement said.

In a follow-up statement to Computer Weekly, SSP said the company is sensitive to the plight of its customers, and comment was merely intended to assure customers that its roadmap and investment plans remain unchanged.

“We wanted to reassure all our customers, in light of rumours to the contrary, that we remain in a position to continue with all planned investments in our products and services in the future,” the statement said.

“We recognise that the period during the outage was difficult for many of our customers and certainly had no intention of suggesting otherwise.” ... ... ... ... ...

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