The ink’s not yet dry on the contract which will see Ageas
transfer 20,000 policies to Carole Nash
, but the Altrincham-based motorcycle insurance specialist’s CEO David Newman is already looking for more acquisition opportunities, Insurance Business
The deal to transfer Express Insurance Services, Kwik Fit Insurance and Green Insurance Company brands’ books completes on June 1, but Newman is in buying mode and is already looking further ahead.
“I’m always interested in talking to anyone who might have a book of motorcycle, classic car or specialist vehicle that maybe isn’t core to their business,” he said. “I’d be confident we could offer them very good commercial terms, that we could do the acquisition and integration very simply – they wouldn’t need to spend a lot of time on it – and best of all we’d do a great job for their customers.”
controls a little over 25% of the UK motorcycle insurance market, with more than 300,000 bikes insured for a GWP of £60m. The company also insures classic cars and other specialist vehicles, and their approach of offering added value on a direct-to-customer basis has served them well, according to Newman.
He said: “What we offer is very different to our competitors. What we’ve seen in a lot of the market is a race to the bottom, it’s all about price whereas for us it’s about the benefits.” Those benefits include full European breakdown cover – “that includes home start, it’s as good as you can buy in the market,” says Newman - and £100,000 legal protection as standard, as well as unique add-ons like a forensic coding system to deter theft and the innovative ‘Rider Cover’ element, which allows bikers to ride their friends’ machines. “Our view has always been that we don’t want to wholesale because we think we need to be able to go to directly to the customer with and have that relationship,” he added.
Newman recently revealed that average customer call times had increased, a development which would be enough to bring a management consultant out in cold sweats but one he was entirely comfortable with.
“There’s always a balance to be had,” he explained. “Conventional wisdom in call centres is you keep the average handling time to a minimum because that way with a given capacity you can take more calls, whereas our view is very different. When we’re talking to a customer they’re probably only going to talk to us once a year so we want to make the most of that opportunity and reinforce the benefits of our policy, remind the customer why they’re insuring with Carole Nash
, and also take the time to find out when their car’s coming up for renewal, when their home insurance because we have a number of other products we can offer to bikers.”
To ensure the call opportunity is maximised, Carole Nash
operates a lengthy training and induction scheme to make sure its agents can relate to customers. Newman said: “What we do religiously is we train in. We have a six-week induction programme for every colleague. Bikers have nicknames for their bikes so we make sure our agents know all the nicknames, they know what’s going on in the racing and biking world. When they’re having that conversation, to most consumers at one end of the spectrum there’s insurance, which is dead boring, at the other end of the spectrum there’s their hobby – biking or cherished cars, which is dead interesting. So it’s about introducing the interesting bits into the parts some people might see as boring. It’s all about customer intimacy.”
That approach has allowed Carole Nash
’s core offering to fight off the threat of commoditisation and the aggregation-driven price wars – although the company does still operate in that space.
“There are some parts of the market where having a totally standard product on a really keen price is the be all and end all,” said Newman. “We do offer brands which have that standard offer on the aggregators but we firmly believe that’s incremental business, it’s a different type of buyer that doesn’t want the full package we offer under the Carole Nash