At a glance
- UK construction sector remains under intense economic pressure
- Growing need for correct insurance cover, but at sustainable rates
- Regional underwriters bring greater support and expertise to brokers and their customers
Ask any golfer and he or she will invariably tell you that good local knowledge of a course is worth its weight in gold. The same logic can be applied to insurance, and especially the construction sector.
Some insurers are drifting away from a regional model in favour of centralised operations, and the support structure and expertise that local underwriters bring is also being removed.
Construction market statistics
Construction accounts for around 7% of the UK’s GDP, 66% of which is from small projects under £500,000*
The industry provides 2.1 million jobs directly and indirectly*
The overall output of the sector is £6.7bn*
Output is not expected to return to its 2007 level until at least 2016 **
*Office for National Statistics
** Construction Skills Network
However, Zurich is looking to buck this trend, and is committed to keeping its regional network in place to help brokers’ construction customers with their insurance needs.
The flagging UK economy of recent years has hit the construction sector hard and has forced many firms of all shapes and sizes to cut costs, with insurance being one of the first places they might look for savings.
Needless to say, this is often a false economy, and to make matters worse, this comes at a time when rate increases are needed more than ever due to ever-increasing claims and risks within the construction sector.
This obviously makes the broker’s job of ensuring their construction clients have the best cover they need, at a price they can afford, all the more difficult.
John Meehan, National Construction and Engineering Development Manager at Zurich, says that with remote underwriting, it is tempting for brokers and clients to go for the cheapest policy rather than the most appropriate one. In the absence of local knowledge and underwriting expertise being applied to individual businesses, assumptions must be made.
Zurich’s regional construction underwriters
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Michael Burns – Belfast
Lynne Magee – Belfast
Simone Butterfield – Birmingham
Anthony Creedon – Birmingham
Glen Considine – Birmingham
Matt Statham – Birmingham
Stella Johal – Birmingham
Paul Dawson – Croydon
Jon Gardener – Croydon
Nick Odd – Croydon
Davie Virdi – Glasgow
Mandy Geddes – Glasgow
Stacey Butterfield – Leeds
Mark Horne – Leeds
Kevan Warne – Leeds
Glen Dutnall – London
William Parker – London
Nicola McMillan – Manchester and Leeds
Daniel Storr – Manchester
Neil Tomlinson – Manchester
“At times like this, market underwriters in the regions are vital,” said John. “We need to make sure businesses are protecting themselves, and at the same time be very aware of the economic pressures they are under. Our market underwriters can help manage this by being close to the broker and deliver their expertise face-to-face.”
With this in mind, Zurich has placed specialist construction market underwriters in each of the branches in its network, covering Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol, Croydon and London.
“Mid-market construction companies often don’t have the external and internal support infrastructure that larger companies have,” added John. “It is a problem that our regional underwriters can address, allowing these mid-market firms to benefit from a tighter relationship between broker, client and underwriter, and providing a more complete view of the risk.”
He added that it is often by being close to the risk and the broker that underwriters can be sure that they are offering the appropriate cover, and, in some cases, a better deal than could have been secured remotely.
“By getting closer to brokers and the markets they operate in, we can be sure that each risk is being assessed individually, that the essential covers such as employers’ and public liability are in place – as well as a host of other covers as appropriate including contractors all risk – and that we have the ability to cover any and all construction clients,” explained John.
To find out more about our construction cover, including the Zurich 360° Contractor, please call your local Zurich contact.