Page 1: Introduction
The financial world used to be straightforward for consumers. They knew where to go and who to ask for the financial products they needed. In recent years, however, the market for financial services has changed almost beyond recognition. Today thousands of types of financial services’ products are available from a growing number of organisations. Consumers may have to assess many different products and suppliers before they can make the right choices for their own personal circumstances. Consumers have far more choice. Ten years ago, who would have imagined that major supermarket chains could become involved in banking and other financial services? Or that many people would choose to administer their finances by telephone or the internet?
Consumers also expect more. Higher education standards and greater mobility have made consumers more knowledgeable and demanding about the nature and type of products they purchase. They want to feel that products are tailored especially for their needs, to be treated as individuals and to feel valued as customers. As a result, organisations are using different tactics to get their products recognised and to develop their reputation and image.
Insurance is an important part of every adult’s life, helping them to make provision for losses or bad luck that might affect them. Established in 1904, Independent Insurance has a reputation for being one of the most innovative and professional companies within the insurance industry. The Company employs 1,600 people in 16 locations and was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1993. It also has operations in France, Spain, Malta and Ireland.
Independent Insurance only sells its products through carefully selected insurance brokers who share the Company’s philosophy of professionalism and true three way partnerships with policyholders. It only sells its products through brokers and does not deal directly with the public. About 1,000 of the UK’s insurance brokers work with Independent, representing around 10 per cent of the country’s brokers. As well as providing commercial insurance to businesses, the organisation aims to be the UK’s leading provider of household and motor cover to wealthy individuals.
Independent recognises that everybody’s insurance needs are different. It practices an approach called customisation. This recognises that individuals have special needs that can only be met by tailored products. Clients are given a personal assessment of their home and contents. This assessment is called a risk management appraisal. From this, a plan is formulated and action taken to ensure the individual’s home meets the Company’s security requirements, e.g. alarm systems, safety of valuables etc. Few other insurance companies adopt this approach to protecting their clients’ risks.
Portfolio of products
It is within this high value insurance niche that Independent has developed a ‘high value’ portfolio of insurance products that includes cover for houses and contents, fine art and antiques, all of which are designed to protect their clients against virtually every type of loss or damage. Independent Insurance is therefore in the premium sector of the home/motor insurance market, offering top quality products backed by a personal approach to protecting a policyholder’s home and contents on a longer term basis.
A major issue of high net worth contents insurance is under-insurance. It is estimated that 85 per cent of all high net worth customers are under-insured, which means if they make a claim they may not get the true value of their stolen/damaged item back. Insuring antiques and works of art is a specialist task, requiring extensive knowledge of precious items, their importance and their market value. By providing policyholders with expert valuations and publishing guides on the subject, Independent is able to protect its clients to ensure they have the right level of cover in the event of a claim.
This case study focuses upon the way in which Independent Insurance has used sponsorship to create a key partnership with The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair to enhance the Company’s reputation as an insurer of high value homes and their contents.