“Customers queue outside Morriston insurance broker which has closed”.
That was the headline in the local press as an insurance broker closed its doors after four years in the community of Morriston, in Swansea. The business was run by Jason Lawrence and was one of more than 90 UK Coversure Insurance Services Network branches.
However, not everything behind the story was quite what it seemed.
“Nothing went wrong – it was a bit of a non-story, really,” said Coversure Associate Director of Sales and Marketing, Sarah Darling. “Jason Lawrence decided he didn’t want to be an insurance broker any more. So we’ve transferred his business over to Forest Gate, which is another Coversure office. We’ve got 94 offices in the UK – everything has gone through our normal processes in terms of transferring or moving and that means informing customers that their policies are going to be administered from another location.
“It’s like someone wanting to retire from business. Jason doesn’t want to be an insurance broker any more – he’s built a successful business but he’s reached a point when he wants to change.”
But what about the reports that customers were queuing in the streets – were they left uninformed about the closure?
“The clients get a letter whenever we do an office move, a closure or we relocate,” continued Darling. “All customers receive a letter prior to the move or closure telling them how to contact us. We put signage on the door. In fact, Jason was in the office for most of the week that the transfer took place - it was quite a normal process.
“The feedback I’ve had from Jason is that he’d have loved to have seen a queue!
“We do have some really good traditional local brokers who deal with a customer base within five miles. If someone had said one of them had closed and there had been a queue I would have said it was dreadful. But, to be honest, I was surprised at that headline.
“It was a very successful business. He deals a lot with fleets and the motor trade so his business is all over the UK. So very little of it is local. So of all our offices, I am particularly surprised that this one would have a queue!”
So while it seems the reports were exaggerated, what can customers do if they are genuinely concerned about the closure? According to Darling, it’s basically business as usual.
“In this case, very little of the business was Swansea based – he generally had national customers. So when you look at the figures there weren’t enough local customers to keep the office open.
“The customers will all have had a letter from us and even if they use the existing phone number it transfers over. The phone lines are just redirected. So if they haven’t opened a letter then all they need to do is phone the office.”
Broker shuts down office without informing customers