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Marrs Insurance Brokers is a trading name of The Not Too Boring Company Ltd. Registered in England & Wales, Registered No. 09026225.

Marrs Insurance Brokers is an appointed representative of TEn Insurance Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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SPRING 2015 - SPRINGING INTO ACTION

“When it’s spring again, I’ll bring again, tulips from Amsterdam”. Soppy song, but Max Bygrave’s greatest hit, another indication we were indeed soppier and more sentimental 50 odd years ago, despite the comparative privations we had back then.  Mind you, skip back another 325 years from when that song first appeared and your beloved would snatch your hand off for even a small bunch of tulips, as a single bulb became so valuable it was worth more than the cost of a house in the best part of Amsterdam and around 15 times more than a builder’s annual salary!

Can you imagine that? Tulipmania was one of the very first commodities bubbles but it certainly won’t be the last.

And what, you may ask, has that to do with Insurance?    

Well, nothing in fact, but I do like to slip in the odd historical fact only because we all should revere the past to get some sort of handle on what’s going to happen in the future.

You could actually say this maxim does apply to insurance as if you survive long enough in this industry (and probably most others of a similar nature) - you get to see history repeating itself time and again.

The Great Big Insurance Companies (GBIC’s) hate being out on a limb, being maverick and doing things differently from their peers. It might get someone sacked - so instead, they all watch what each other does and, in time, adopt the same ideas, mainly because they all know and probably worked with each other over their long and illustrious careers and rocking the boat with an avant-garde departure from the norm isn’t going to give them any guarantee of pensionable security for their forthcoming retirement…

“We’re centralising our system base and concentrating our regionalised network into primary hubs” says one, over lunch. The other nods sagely, making a mental note to ask their PA’s what the hell that means when he gets back to his office.

10 years later after they’ve all centralised, the same setting, only this time:

“We’re regionalising our representation to reach our supporting Brokers more fluently and capitalise on our local knowledge”  

This is GBIC speak for “I’ve only been in the job 3 months and I haven’t thought of anything new so this could be a winner!”

I had a conversation with someone very high up at a GBIC some years ago and was moaning at him about the dire service – late delivery, wrong documentation, bad claims service. Theirs was no isolated case as they had great staff, just too much work to meet the needs of demanding Brokers like wot I am.

Their solution? Lump it – his Branch could not extract more funds from Head Office because other insurers were equally reticent about hiring.

I told him he shouldn’t hire adequate staff - he should overhire! Actually take on more people than they need immediately, giving time to implement training schemes where quality staff are not trying to do their day to day whilst training others at the same time, and they would be set up for the influx of business that would undoubtedly wing its way to them just because they could deliver a service.

He thought this was a great idea and went to the Board with it – it got nowhere of course and he left the Boardroom to the sound of his own footsteps and gales of riotous laughter behind him. A great shame but not exactly unsurprising. He’s now retired and I’m still moaning about the woeful lack of service that has become de rigueur with GBIC’s – he’s probably the smart one.

Great example of this sad state of affairs hit me in the face yesterday – involving someone not even my client. A couple had taken out a policy for their house with an organisation mainly known for banking and mortgages – I won’t name them aloud for fear of having my tyres slashed but I can tell you their roots have a Cantabrian flavour…

The victims, sorry, policyholders had a bay window which was slowly sinking into the North London sunset. Furthermore, their policy runs out next Monday night. They called their insurers who it seemed were not their insurers at all but by some mystical sorcery, fronted an arrangement worthy of a Tolkien trilogy, which incorporated no fewer than 5 separate entities involving administrators, Brokers, Broker Administrators, Claims Handlers and finally and ultimately, sitting right at the top of the lot of them, a GBIC!

Not only did my new friends receive a call telling them that because they’d had a claim, they would not be invited to renew their policy next week, but when they were called back with an apology to say this was incorrect, it wasn’t that they were going to be given renewal terms after all, but that they were being rejected for the wrong reason – they were now considered a higher flood risk than they had been 12 months previously so they wouldn’t be offered renewal anyway -  sorry and all that…

No chance anyone else would touch them in the light of an extant subsidence claim. The poor family tried without success to involve the ABI and the Financial Ombudsman and finally, through their surveyor, called me (often the call of last resort) and I undertook to see what I could do.

Dear reader, I have to admit having studied the paperwork, even I was scratching my head as to who arranged the policy, who dealt with claims and who the insurer actually was. It was truly mind-boggling.

An old pal of mine came to the rescue as I knew he’d enlighten me, him having been instrumental in this particular arrangement in a previous life. He gave me access to a number of people high up in the Fellowship of the Ring and they are it seems going to rescue the situation and ensure the GBIC keeps the clients insured.

I’m sounding more like Muttley every day: rassafrassarassasass!!!