When making a mistake on an insurance application form can have huge consequences in the event of a claim, the trend towards online self-completion is a risky one, in the eyes of Tigi Singhateh, incoming managing director of Invicta Insurance Services Ltd.
“The larger aggregators and online insurers are relying on you, the client, with no specialist training, to fill in all the details and get them right,” he pointed out. “The danger with that approach is that if you don’t get everything right the insurer may limit how much they pay out in the event of a claim because the proposal on which the policy was agreed was inaccurate.”
That’s why Sevenoaks-based Invicta Insurance Services, which has just strengthened its agricultural arm with the arrival of two well-known faces in the business, offers personal visits to all clients to give them the reassurance they need in such an important area.
And that’s every client, not just the larger ones. “The size of the client or the size of the premium makes no difference to the level of service we offer,” stressed operations director Adrian Best. “Our aim is to be a neighbourhood broker with an open door policy. If you want to call in and talk to us, or you would like us to visit you, we are happy to do that.”
There is, of course, a business reason behind what is likely to be seen as a refreshing approach in an industry that has become increasingly on-line and telephone based over the years.
Invicta Insurance Services offers a full range of products, from commercial and business insurance through personal lines (houses and cars) to equine and agricultural. “Our aim is to ‘ring fence’ clients by being their first choice broker for all their needs, from their farm buildings to their private cars and any commercial buildings they might have as a result of diversification,” said Tigi.
“It’s also clear that farmers talk to each other, and we want to deliver such a great service that word gets around. A personal visit to a relatively small client with one building on a smallholding may seem over the top, but if he or she then tells a contractor with a fleet of vehicles how well we looked after him or her, we’re happy.”
Farming customers are in good hands after Invicta Insurance Services, founded in 2010, took over respected Sittingbourne-based brokers Copperwheat Barlow on 1 April this year following the retirement of founder Neil Barlow.
“Neil was anxious to make sure that the farming customer base he had worked hard to build up over the past 25 years continued to be well looked after, and clearly the best way to do that was to bring his team, Angus Campbell and Harry Myers, on board as part of Invicta,” said Adrian.
While Angus and Harry have added significant agricultural insurance expertise to Invicta Insurance Services, Tigi has also injected considerable experience of both insurance in general and farming in particular.
He has spent the past 26 years in the industry working for national names as well as leading the NFU Mutual’s flagship branch in Reading. While at Reading he persuaded local farmers of all kinds to let him spend a day with each of them, giving him an insight into the risks and issues facing both livestock and arable businesses.
He found the experience eye-opening, particularly when he saw at first hand the devastating impact on a farming family of a positive TB test on a herd of cattle. “I learned so much; it was mind-blowing,” he said. “But to my mind it was absolutely vital. If you don’t understand what your clients do, how can you insure them against the risks involved?”
Tigi, who is also a retained fireman, a parish councillor for Dunsfold in Surrey, where he lives and reached the quarter finals of series 18 of TV’s Masterchef competition, joined Invicta Insurance Services last October as the previous managing director, Steve Gamage, prepared to retire. Adrian had joined as operations manager about four months earlier before joining the Invicta board in March of this year.
“Both Steve and Neil worked hard to create quality, customer-focused insurance businesses,” said Adrian. “By bringing them together in this way we believe we have a strong platform to deliver an excellent service to farmers across the South East.”