TH March’s Neil MacFarlane gives his insight on navigating policies.
By Neil McFarlane
Arranging suitable insurance for the particular risks faced by the jewellery industry can be an exacting task and one that requires research and an understanding of available insurance products. Neil McFarlane, managing director of Chartered insurance broker T.H. March, shares a few tips on how to achieve the best cover for your business.
In today’s insurance market with providers coming at you from all angles, not least via the internet, it can be difficult to decide which offering is best suited to your specific needs.
Clearly that is where the advice of a knowledgeable broker will prove to be invaluable because every business is unique and a good insurance broker will be able to home in on those elements and then recommend the most appropriate insurance products to fit your specific requirements.
Most people reading this will be familiar with what happens in the lead up to an insurance renewal date: an unwelcome bombardment of seemingly cheap offers all purporting to give the best for least. Unrealistic offers are usually just that. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Aside from the obvious advice of looking at value, rather than just price (there are quite often substantial differences in the cover on offer, including excesses and policy limits), here are a few more salient points to consider. Firstly, is the broker regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (formerly the Financial Services Authority)? This is something you can check this by visiting the FCA’s website: fca.org.uk. Brokers who are regulated by the FCA must comply with a strict set of obligations that are designed to protect clients, and if you are unhappy with the service your broker has provided you can complain to the FCA. The obligations include providing a clear demands and needs statement, not just a sentence, together with a full summary of policy cover, listing the terms, conditions and limitations, prior to cover being arranged.
Next, does the broker have experience of the jewellery trade? The jewellery industry is a highly specialist area for insurers so it is therefore sensible to ensure that you engage a broker who can demonstrate an appropriate level of experience. To establish this try asking them the following questions:
• What do you know about my industry – are you a jewellery trade specialist?
• If so, how long is your experience in servicing the jewellery trade?
• Which insurers do you place business with?
• Aside from the FCA, are you a member of any other recognised industry body, such as the Chartered Insurance Institute or the British Insurance Brokers Association?
• Do you place the insurance directly with an underwriter or do you send it to another specialist intermediary?
• Do you understand the particular security issues and risks relevant to the jewellery trade and are you able to advise me on these matters in relation to my business?
• Can you offer advice on approved services that could assist me if or when I have to make a claim? For example, if my premises is damaged following a robbery, a fire or a flood?
• Will you visit me at my premises in order to fully understand the needs of my business?
• Who will I deal with and will I be given a dedicated account handler who will take time to get to know me and my business?
Choose a broker that is willing to perform an advisory role or at the very least, one whose approach to customer service tallies closely with your expectations.
Taking time to gain a clear understanding what a broker can offer you (in comparison to what you actually expect) is a very good way of selecting the broker that will suit you. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association and Chartered Institute of Insurers maintain online directories of brokers so it is worth visiting the relevant websites to check. A broker’s Terms of Business will also provide useful information about their services.
In addition, good insurance brokers will always be happy to give security advice to their clients. One recommendation we always make at T. H. March is that our clients should actively participate in the SaferGems scheme. This initiative was developed by T. H. March in partnership with the National Association of Goldsmiths back in 2009 and we are proud of the positive impact it continues to make. It is essentially an information exchange scheme and it helps jewellers and others in associated trades (who are clients of T. H. March, members of the NAG or the BJA) to keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening in terms of criminals and the latest methods being used to target the industry.
Neil McFarlane is the managing director of chartered insurance brokers T. H. March, jewellery trade specialists that have been providing services to the industry since 1887. This feature was taken from the September 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.