TH March has specialised in jewellery and watch insurance since 1887 and describes itself as the premier broker to the jewellery trade. In 2011 it became a Chartered Insurance Broker, the industry’s gold-standard award, after satisfying rigorous criteria relating to professionalism, capability and ethics.
Professional Jeweller has spoken with CEO, Neil McFarlane, about the company’s more-than 130-year history, what TH March has to offer to jewellery businesses today, and why the old adage “you only get what you pay for” has never been more true.
TH March has specialised in jewellery insurance for more than a century and the roots of the company lie firmly in Hatton Garden. How important is that history to your links with the UK jewellery trade?
We believe very important, as it forms the core of who we are. Tommy March, our founder, was the son of a Hatton Garden jeweller, so you could say that the jewellery trade is in our DNA. This has enabled us to forge and maintain close links with the major trade associations and buying groups.
How would you describe the jewellery insurance solutions that you offer? Do you offer a wide range of cover or do you try and keep the offer streamlined?
As we have such a close link to the jewellery trade, we have always tried to tailor our solutions to the specific needs of jewellers.
Therefore, we offer a very wide portfolio of insurance and risk management. We can insure a jewellery shop, workshop, factory or office.
We have specialist five-star schemes, working with jewellers, to insure the items they sell to customers. In addition, we also offer a full portfolio of home insurance, ranging from standard home to ultra-high net worth.
Finally, through TH March Financial Planning, we can offer a full range of protection and wealth management services, including Life Insurance, Critical Illness, Private Medical Insurance and Pension and Wealth Management advice.
What kind of services do you offer retailers that might want to work with TH March?
As mentioned previously, in addition to ensuring a jewellers business, we have market leading schemes for them to offer insurance cover to their customers.
These fall into two categories:
- March Guard – a point of sale certificate scheme, with guaranteed replacement or repair through the introducing jeweller.
- March Plus – a referral scheme for higher value items, where cover can be arranged over the phone or online.
Can jewellery insurance be a money-maker for a retailer? Or is it something that retailers simply need to offer to provide a total solution for customers?
We think both. Taking control of the repair or replacement of an item is essential for jewellers to maintain the contact and relationship with their customers. Many insurers now have centralised replacement schemes, with the cost of the claim being the most important factor.
We believe it is important for the customer to continue to deal with the jeweller from whom they made the purchase in the event of a claim, wherever this is possible.
This enables the jeweller to benefit from the repair or replacement, albeit they will need to offer a small discount to the insurer.
Furthermore, under both our March Guard and March Plus schemes, the introducing jeweller will earn a commission on the initial policy and for March Plus a further commission, every time the policy is renewed.
We have jewellers we work with who earn thousands of pounds a year with these schemes.
How complex would you say the world of jewellery insurance is today? What would you say to any retailer daunted by the subject?
We don’t think it is complicated. After all, we have been looking after the insurance needs of retailers since 1887!
However, it is important that you deal with a broker that understands the jewellery trade, not just from an insurance perspective but also risk management around security and procedures.
It is important that you deal with a broker that understands the jewellery trade”
At the end of the day, it is better to prevent a loss if at all possible. However, if the worst happens and you suffer a loss, having the peace of mind that you are dealing with a broker and insurer who understand the trade and looks to pay, rather than avoid paying claims, is essential.
What can retailers expect from working with TH March – are you a company that allows retailers to carry out a lot of the communication and processes out online? Or is it more about human contact and dialogue with this sort of specialist insurance?
TH March’s business has been built on personal contact looking after the insurance needs of our clients. We have 6 offices around the UK, so can safely say that we are always “near you” to our clients.
However, the situation created by this year’s coronavirus pandemic has meant that we, like many businesses, have had to quickly adapt to different ways of working.
This has meant that many of the aspects of looking after our clients’ insurance needs have had to be carried out remotely, rather than in face-to-face meetings.
However, we are still very much a “people” business, so will continue to offer clients visits when it is safe to do so.
Importantly, the one thing we have learnt during this difficult year, is the ability to offer our clients the flexibility in how they want to deal with us.
This change in how we interact with clients will evolve over time and become easier and more seamless.
You recently worked with a retailer that integrated TH March insurance with their website, so that customers buying online could add insurance to their basket at the same time. How common is this kind of arrangement and what role do you see technology playing in jewellery insurance moving forward?
With more and more retailers having some form of e-commerce capability, this will become even more important in the future.
We have had the ability to link a client’s website to ourselves for a number of years and more and more jewellers are taking advantage of this facility.
The adage ‘You only get what you pay for’ has never been more important than it is now.”
This additional functionality is key to enable jewellers to offer a more “comprehensive” customer experience in a very competitive market.
TH March is committed to using technology to make the lives of our clients easier when it comes to arranging insurance, whether it is for themselves or their customers.
We have a number of exciting initiatives ongoing at the moment, which we will be delighted to share with the trade over the next couple of years.
What’s the number one misconception you see in the trade when it comes to jewellery insurance?
That is easy – the cheapest insurance offering is very rarely the best. The adage “You only get what you pay for” has never been more important than it is now.
We believe that the price a business pays for their insurance cover is very important. However, the extent of the cover, service and claims experience is even more important.
The saying “I will explain the price once, rather than apologise for the quality forever” is especially true for insurance.
How has Covid-19 impacted the jewellery insurance market and the way that you deal with retailers?
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic we were starting to see signs of insurers being more selective in the types of policy and cover they would offer, together with how these policies were priced.
Whilst most businesses will not have any insurance cover against the forced closures, the direct and indirect costs of the pandemic globally are estimated at $100 billion – according to Lloyd’s of London.
This is now filtering down into the availability of coverage under many different policies, insurers pulling out of certain types of cover and massive upward pressure on prices.
This, coupled with the obvious financial impact on businesses who have had to close, means that the next 12 months could be volatile.
With regard to the impact on how we deal with our clients, when the first lockdown came into force, we had to adapt very quickly.
This was to ensure our clients could change and renew policies and obtain quotes as they always had done.
Apart from no client visits, I would hope that there has been no noticeable drop off in the service our clients receive.
See sales director, Simon Dawe, discuss March Insurance Solutions and March Guard below:
What has TH March got planned for 2021 – are there any new initiatives or services you are working on that we can expect to see benefit retailers?
We are always looking at new and different types of policy and coverage, reflecting new and emerging risks our client face.
Particularly important at the moment is the threat of a cyber-attack, together with an increase in litigation from all different sources.
This makes Cyber Insurance and Management Liability Insurance especially important right now, so we will be continuing to discuss these areas with our clients.
The continued development of the SaferGems service is also vital as criminals evolve and adapt their attack types.
The alerts and intelligence gathered by the SaferGems team provides a valuable tool in the fight against crime for the jewellery trade.
We are continuing to review many of our processes, focussed on improving the customer experience, both B2B and B2C.
As previously mentioned, we hope to be able to share some of these with you during 2021. Part of this involves a brand refresh for TH March, which you will all see over the coming weeks and months.
10-12 Ely Pl, Holborn, London EC1N 6RY