Making time to talk an all together better way of working

All together better. That’s our mantra at UNA Alliance, and we very much work to it. As independent insurance brokers, making time to talk – whether that’s with our customers, our fellow members, our insurer partners or, indeed, our people – is something we do every single day. Here, our Executive Chair, Tim Ryan, explores how making 'time to talk' can boost wellbeing for all. 

Making time to talk is more than just about business and, in these unsettling times, picking up the phone or even dropping a quick note by email can make a great difference to that person’s wellbeing, and our own.

It’s all about staying connected. It could be easy to suggest that in our digitally joined-up world we’re more connected than ever. Right now, though, even if we spend hours every day on video or telephone calls, and even if we’re surrounded by a whole family working and schooling from home, we may also feel disconnected, lonely and overwhelmed.

Within our businesses, the same is true whether we’re talking about a staff member who is working – either on site at our premises or from home – or an employee who has been furloughed. Staying in touch to check in on wellbeing, rather than work, is the right thing to do.

Looking outwards, customer service can also change to reflect the current circumstances. Reaching out to customers to reassure them that you’re on hand to help, and taking time to talk for just a few minutes, means that they will feel more connected to your business, that you care and that they’ve made the right decision working with you. Better still, they’ll feel happier afterwards, too. That’s because ‘feel good’ conversations trigger higher levels of wellbeing hormones, including dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, among others.

Meanwhile, keeping the communications channels open with our business associates, be they fellow members of an alliance such as UNA, partners such as our network of insurers, or any other stakeholder in the supply chain is important, too.

We’re all in this together and we’re all together better. It’s been shown that kindness helps to increase self-esteem and to improve mood and wellbeing. Kindness can also increase your sense of connectivity with others, directly impacting feelings of loneliness for you and them. It also can be contagious…pass it on!



Seventeen Group Form European Insurance Broker

Seventeen Group form European insurance broker

Seventeen Group, owners of new UNA Member, James Hallam and Touchstone Underwriting, are pleased to announce the formation of London Re, a European Lloyds broker based in Dusseldorf Germany and with a branch office based in London.

London Re has been formed in a joint venture agreement between Seventeen Group and MRH Trowe, one of the largest independent brokers in Germany which employs circa 450 staff across 12 offices in Germany and 1 in Vienna.

London Re offers an independent broking solution for EU clients and brokers wishing to access the London Market for a wide range of products including Property, Casualty, Marine and Motorsport. The business is regulated in Germany, has FCA approval for its UK branch and is a Lloyds Broker.

Speaking about the joint venture Paul Anscombe adds: “Seventeen Group is a diverse insurance business with a growing international client base. When we considered the impact of Brexit on James Hallam we decided without hesitation that we wanted to create a business which could directly service EU clients and brokers in the future. We also recognised that it would add enormous strength to work in partnership with a broker whom we felt shared our ‘independent broker spirit’ and culture. We have known MRH Trowe for many years and respected the quality which Max and his team have brought to the German and Austrian markets. Our Head Office in Dusseldorf puts London Re in the heart of Europe and therefore offers us significant opportunities to work with the world leading skills contained within the London Market on European risks.

Setting up this new venture during lockdown has been a mammoth task for both parties but this is a very significant new chapter for our respective businesses and one which adds greatly to our strength in a rapidly changing world”.

Maximilian Trowe from MRH Trowe and joint Managing Director of London Re commented “Establishing direct access to Lloyd’s of London has long been a strategic goal for MRH Trowe and we are excited that this became feasible through the personal relationship with Seventeen Group. London Re enables us to counter the capacity bottlenecks of insurers existing in the EU market and to offer support to medium-sized brokers for complex risks. We see tremendous opportunity within MRH Trowe’s client’s needs as well as the need for the services London Re offers to brokers across the EU.”

Bruce Millington joins from within to bring brokers ‘all together better’

We are delighted to announce the appointment of experienced commercial broker, Bruce Millington, as our new Schemes, Placement and Relationship Manager.

Part of our continued commitment to bring members “All Together Better”, Bruce brings a wealth of expertise and experience to this important role. Working in relationship development positions in various intermediary organisations around the UK, he joins us from Sutton Winson, where he was head of commercial broking, managing the team, clients and insurer relationships.

Speaking of his career move, Bruce said: “Having spent 14 years at Sutton Winson – a founding UNA Alliance member – and well over 20 years before that in the industry, the opportunity to work on the team at UNA and devote all my experience to supporting fellow brokers and insurers is incredibly exciting.”

“My background and experience have provided me with a deep understanding of how to bring the best together for our members and insurance partners. I’m already in regular contact with each of our member organisations, albeit virtually at the moment, and I’m looking forward to getting out on the road and bringing us all together even better as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Hailing his appointment the “perfect addition” to the UNA Alliance team, Executive Chair, Tim Ryan, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Bruce officially. Coming from within, if you like, as a UNA member and a former Chair of our UNA Placement Group, Bruce already knows our members, he understands our organisation and exactly how he can make a difference for them. His skills and experience really couldn’t be better.”

Broking beyond Brexit

At our UNA V Conference in November, we were delighted to welcome Federico Shaw, from Tysers, who discussed the concerns many of us will be feeling about broking beyond Brexit. 

There are many areas of our work that are likely to be affected, and preparedness is key. Luckily, we’ve had over four years to work up plans and, while most people would have hoped for a soft Brexit – retaining close relations and many of the benefits of staying within the single market, a no deal scenario looks set to take place. 

Here are four areas to review: 

Market access

While in the UK we have probably unmatched expertise in assessing and underwriting unique risks, the European market opens up access to a greater network for us. Retaining access to the European market is, therefore, essential for many broker businesses. 

Brexit, though, means that UK-based insurance brokers that have, until the end of this year, carried out business in the European economic Area (EEA) will lose their passporting rights, therefore unable to do business via Freedom of Services in the EU. 

So, as brokers, there is a need for us to organise partnerships or to set up as an agent or broker business in a European Union country before 31 December 2020. Many have already done this, for others, time is running out. If you are setting up a satellite business in the EU, you will also need to obtain the regulatory permissions required in that country. This can take up to six months to complete. 

Data protection

It doesn’t really seem that long ago that we were introducing the changes required of us with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation, back in May 2018. Protecting the data we transfer, whether within the UK or further afield, is paramount. While the GDPR will still remain the binding law, and it will be taken into UK law, it’s important to regularly review for compliance. In order to maintain the flow of data from the EU into the UK, businesses may need to apply additional clauses – Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) to be put into place. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) offers more guidance, as well as a useful tool, for this. 

Customer communications

Hard Brexit will cause many impacts on insurance for our customers. Making sure they are well informed, and therefore ready with the additional covers they need, is a key role for brokers. From travel insurance to cover for motorists overseas, through to the communications you need to have with your customers if you are no longer able to access the unique covers they may need. Policy wording and contractual agreements should also be reviewed. 

Employing EU nationals

If you employ EU nationals, you may wish to support their application for the EU Settlement Scheme, to allow them to continue to live and work here. The deadline for applications is 31 December 2020 but remember that the person must have already been living in the UK on 31 October 2019. 

At the end of an incredibly challenging year, ensure you are prepared for Broking Beyond Brexit.

The cost of underinsurance

Underinsurance. It’s perhaps one of the aspects of insurance that is least understood. It’s also an aspect that can cause very real, but very avoidable, problems in the event of a claim.

Before the covid pandemic caused the country to lockdown during the first half of 2020, it was thought that around 40% of UK businesses had inadequate levels of insurance and 80% of commercial properties in the UK were also thought to be underinsured.

With an RSA report suggesting that one in four SMEs said that they would have to close if they had an unexpected £50,000 bill, having adequate insurance to cover a claim is vital. That said, with over a quarter of UK businesses forced to close during the first lockdown, cutting costs has, for many, been the difference between closures being a temporary pause or being permanently out of business.

Executive Chair, Tim Ryan, shines a light on underinsurance for our customers as a part of our focus on this topic over the coming quarter. 

What is underinsurance?

Whether for your property, fixtures and fittings, stock, business interruption, legal liabilities or any other aspect of your business, your insurance policy should ideally cover risks to those aspects enough to allow the policyholder to put themselves back into business in the event of a claim.

Underinsurance happens when that business (or an individual) fails to insure for a sufficient amount. Businesses can find themselves underinsured for a number of reasons, whether this is by accident or on purpose.

When the assets in your business are underinsured, the ‘average’ clause is likely to come into play. This clause requires you to bear a proportion of the loss if your assets were insured for less than their full reinstatement (repair or replacement) value.

So, if you are a business with a piece of plant that would cost £5,000 to replace, but you have requested cover for only £3,000, in the event of a claim, average will be applied and your insurance company is likely to pay out only £3,000. Leaving you to pick up the remaining £2,000. This rule also applies to partial losses.

Likewise, you may be a business with multiple risks, but you decide not to cover one of those to try to keep your insurance premiums lower. In the event of a claim, though, this can be catastrophic.

For retail businesses, perhaps the most prevalent time for underinsurance is during high buying seasons, such as Christmas, when raising sums insured with a seasonal increase for stock and contents will most likely be required. Keeping your insurance broker in the know about value of stock, as well as any changes to your business assets, is essential.

The dangers of being underinsured are clear and, in the event of a claim, an underinsured business could suffer a loss that is too large to bear, causing it to have to cease trading.

How to avoid being underinsured

Neither brokers nor insurers are keen to see their policyholders out of pocket, and we’re in the business of helping to protect our customers’ interests. With that in mind, we are on hand to help guide our customers through calculating sums insured, making sure the right insurance is in place and that it is as comprehensive as possible.

It’s in these areas that the true value of working with insurance brokers comes to the fore, offering the experience and market knowledge to find both the policies and the sums insured needed to properly cover your business assets and revenue. All ensuring you are able to rebuild your business properly in the event of a claim.

Helping to focus on underinsurance

At UNA Alliance, we're focusing on underinsurance, to research its prevalence and to highlight its risks. Watch this space...