In the scheme of things

In a changing market, Hiscox is developing specialised insurance policies that are helping to take partnerships between brokers and their clients to the next level.

As the insurance market becomes more competitive, both brokers and insurers need something to help set themselves apart. One way of doing this is through schemes, bespoke offerings that are tailored to a particular client’s needs. An effective scheme could help to differentiate your business by targeting niche markets that are not covered by traditional insurance, or it could open the door to clients who are not satisfied with their current traditional solution. Creating a scheme requires a different way of working with an insurer, in that it is a broker-led partnership that builds on a particular sector.

Since 2010, Hiscox has been building a significant presence in the schemes market and manages more than £90m worth of premiums. It has developed over 180 bespoke schemes across a variety of specialisms, such as sports, specialist retail and even drones.

One such scheme was for Brownhill Insurance Group, which specialises in business, personal, private medical and art insurance. The scheme went live in December 2018, after transferring its existing scheme from another insurer, and is designed for art galleries and art dealers, with a bespoke wording to cover artworks on display in galleries at any given time, including high-ticket items not covered under general contents policy.  

Gary Tommy, Compliance Director at Brownhill Insurance Group explains the history: “It started with our high-net-worth clients having very niche and specific needs as collectors. They were then introducing us to galleries, and we needed cover for these places. It got to the point where we had sufficient business to justify a scheme,” he says.

Brownhill had a good existing relationship with Hiscox. “They have always been very responsive and a pleasure to deal with,” says Gary, adding that Brownhill also wanted to work with someone who is a known player in the art market. ““When we were re-tendering our scheme as part of a due diligence exercise, Hiscox came back to us with a degree of enthusiasm that no one else showed; it felt much more like a partnership than a business transaction. We had no hesitation in using them.”

After Brownhill approached Hiscox to partner on the transferred scheme, the insurer managed to get it up and running within 90 days, something that Gary describes as “unheard of”, with the process usually taking the best part of a year. “The schemes team worked brilliantly and there was a great deal of trust on both sides to get this done quickly, but properly.”

It’s important for a bespoke scheme to continually review and adapt if circumstances have changed, or if something’s not working well. Hiscox and Brownhill now meet at least every quarter to have an open and honest conversation about the scheme to discuss what’s happening and to make any necessary changes.  

One element of the scheme that Brownhill has been particularly impressed with is the claims service. “We have found their claims service first-class;  quite frankly, it’s blown us away,” said Gary, explaining a case in which a vehicle lost control and drove into a client’s shop front. “Luckily no one was hurt and Hiscox handled the situation immediately and sensitively; the claims team even sent the business owner a bunch of flowers and a vase to put them in too. In my 25 years in the industry, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

While off-the-shelf products will continue to play a vital role in the insurance industry, schemes offers an opportunity for both brokers and customers to adapt and differentiate themselves in a competitive market. “Having this specialism adds value to our business. For anyone looking to grow their businesses, schemes are a great way of distinguishing yourself in the market,” concludes Gary.

If you’re a broker looking to start a scheme or build on an existing scheme, complete Hiscox’s online business planning tool and a member of the schemes team will get in touch.