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Better insurance solutions for the construction industry

At a glance

  • Construction customers have very unique needs, and brokers require a different approach to help them achieve their desired outcomes
  • Brokers face intense competition for business, and pressure from customers to continually reduce the total cost of insurance
  • Zurich has created a new role to better support brokers to win and retain construction business

We talk to Bernadette Hackett, Global Corporate/EMEA Customer and Distribution Manager (Construction), about how Zurich is addressing the most pressing challenges for construction brokers in today’s market.

Q. Your role was introduced in April. What was the reason for its creation?

Bernadette: Construction is a unique business and its customers have very varied needs. Brokers are often asked to arrange bespoke wordings, consider various international elements and deal with projects that run far beyond the normal renewal cycle.

Generally, insurers take the same approach to construction as to all classes of business, which can make it difficult for brokers to achieve the best customer outcomes.

My role was created out of an understanding that construction is a unique class of business, and that brokers require a special kind of service from their insurer.

Q. How will this role benefit brokers?

Bernadette: Brokers are often fighting for the same pieces of business and are therefore looking to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Brokers can contact us and have an open discussion about what they need to get done and we work with them to get the best out of what Zurich has to offer. This can be as simple as helping their customers better understand the real value of Zurich’s offering, right up to discussing the creation of entirely new products.

Q. How is Zurich’s approach different?

BERNI HACKETTBernadette Hackett, Global Corporate/EMEA Customer and Distribution Manager (Construction)

Bernadette: I think it is a more comprehensive offering. The market is awash with capacity, so any broker can find a cheap price. To really achieve the best outcomes for customers, brokers want an insurer who is willing to work closely with them to develop their book of business.

At Zurich we provide the security that construction customers need to build large and complex projects, we work collaboratively with our clients and their brokers to get the right cover, our risk engineers work with clients to provide added value beyond just and insurance survey and importantly Zurich pay claims promptly and fairly.

Zurich has a long history in the construction insurance sector and has never dipped in and out of the market. All of our teams are incredibly professional and exceptionally well qualified, so you know you are going to get a sensible, grown up solution every time.

Q. What experience do you bring to the role?

Bernadette: I have worked for 20 years in the construction insurance sector as a broker, specialising in mining, utilities, nuclear and professional indemnity insurance, and was also involved in the insurance programme for the construction of Wembley National Stadium.

This means I really understand brokers’ needs and what they want from their insurer. On a lot of cases I may actually know their clients as well, so there is a real opportunity to strengthen relationships and achieve better customer outcomes.

Q. Tell us a bit about the team behind you

Bernadette: We have an amazing team of incredibly well qualified and exceptional professionals. Many have prior industry experience and really understand the nitty-gritty of building structures and how to create the coverage that customers truly need.

For example, Andy Kane, Head of UK and International Programmes, was formerly the chief underwriting officer for HSB and is respected as a man who really knows about construction risks. And Keith Mapp, a member of our Contractors All Risks (CAR) team and a former civil engineer, is probably regarded as the greatest authority on tunnelling insurance in the London market, if not the world.

Construction is a unique class of business, and brokers require a special kind of service from their insurer”

Bernadette Hackett, Global Corporate/EMEA Customer and Distribution Manager (Construction)

Caroline Hairsine, who leads our International CAR projects team, was a civil engineer, with an additional 12 years’ experience of working in the construction insurance sector and is highly regarded as a Lead Underwriter in the CAR market.

Joining us recently from Swiss Re is Manuela Baroncini, who leads our International Erection All Risks (EAR) team. She has a solid technical background in mechanical engineering, followed by 13 years experience working as a senior underwriter in London, Zurich, Singapore and Rome.

Our London-based team is a Centre of Excellence for construction insurance, and provides leadership, support and technical expertise to the other Zurich offices around the world.

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenges for construction brokers in today’s market?

Bernadette: Firstly, competition – everyone is fighting over the same pieces of business. Secondly, income – fees have been driven through the floor. There are some fantastic brokers out there who are incredible client-servicers, but even they are experiencing immense pressure to continually reduce the cost of insurance, and ultimately their fees.

Q. How do you plan to develop your role to better address the challenges brokers are facing?

Bernadette: I want to really streamline our service to make it as easy as possible to do business with Zurich. Helping increase the speed and effectiveness of dealing with us will aid brokers’ own productivity and help them get more out of each piece of business.

We want to work closely with brokers to get the solution they need. If we can support them to give the best service to their customers that is the perfect solution for everyone; it is good for us, it is good for the broker, and most importantly it is good for the customer.

Image © Getty

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