SERVICE WITH A SMILE | Insurance Business

When Kay Jackson launched Simplex Insurance in 2005, she didn’t have a single client on the books. “Our first port of call was family and friends,” she recalls, “and then we hit the phones.” Today, with a diverse yet niche-targeted brokerage that employs nine staff, she believes brokers have more opportunities than ever to grow their customer base – provided they’re willing to offer A-list service.

Why did you decide to launch Simplex Insurance when you did?
Kay Jackson I began my career in the industry in 1986 and I was very lucky that I was able to work in different positions, from mail clerk to claims, underwriting and then business development management. After I had my first child I decided, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this for me, so I launched my business in 2005. We didn’t have any clients whatsoever, so whether it was a mum or dad client or a big business, we weren’t very fussy to start with.
Simplex Insurance offers a diverse range of unique insurance products. How did you end up working in these specific, niche industries? 
KJ We started out by virtually doing anything and everything! After 12 months I wrote a business plan of the areas that I wanted to get involved in, and at the time it was the building industry. We went down the track of being educational, rather than selling ourselves, and it was very successful, but I was concerned about being too niche and having all our eggs in one basket. So we decided to move into an industry that is about as opposite as possible to builders, and began working with dance teachers.
Dance teachers is an unusual area to target. What prompted your interest in this industry?
KJ At the time, we had a staff member who was a dance teacher, and it got us thinking about the fact that, while they’re good at what they do, they don’t know much about the insurance side of things. They hire equipment and stage concerts without thinking about the consequence if, for instance, equipment gets damaged or stolen, as they often don’t realise what they’re liable for. We worked through different issues with our staff member and came up with a good policy, and again, got in touch with teachers of dance and offered our services on an educational front. These days, we often go to conferences and hold workshops to educate clients about what they need to look out for. Just recently, we began exploring opportunities in the hair and beauty industry.
As well as targeting niche industries, you also offer various retail insurance products. How much business do you do in this space? 
KJ We do about 18–20% in retail. I know there’s a lot of talk about the direct marketers in home and contents insurance, but I do believe there’s a place for broking in that space. It’s not simply a matter of getting the cheapest price, and this is where brokers can help educate consumers about what they’re actually paying for. We have had clients go off and get their own direct quotes, and come back to us and say, “you’re ripping us off!” But when we do a policy comparison we can show them, “this is the cover you have now, and this is what your new policy won’t cover you for”.
How do you think brokers can leverage more business in the retail space?
KJ If a consumer comes to a broker, the onus is on us to make sure they get the best price and the best coverage possible, and there’s a real opportunity for brokers to make headway in this regard. The average consumer with no insurance at all generally thinks that if they pay their home and contents premium each year, everything is covered – and that’s where we fall down. It comes down to educating the client and explaining that if you want the Rolls Royce of insurance, you can get a policy with coverage away from home for high-value items and accidental damage, but if it’s your first home, and you don’t mind living with a bit of spilt red wine on the carpet and you only need a low jewellery limit, then a basic policy would be fine. It comes down to the level of service and expertise that brokers can offer. We survey every client that has a claim, and during the last calendar year our results showed 100% satisfaction after a claim, while 97% ranked us as excellent. It makes us feel really proud because there’s such a bad perception of insurance claims in the market. People automatically think, “here comes the muck around… Am I going to get paid or what…?” They are ready for a fight before they’ve even lodged their claim. They expect to be ripped off; they expect not to be paid. And afterwards, they’re so relieved when the service is not what they expected.
What does the next 12 months hold for Simplex Insurance?
KJ We’re purchasing another business, which will virtually double us in size. I’m sure it will be a very positive experience, but it’s really uncharted waters. It’s a brand new concept for us and we want to be sure that we can look after everyone equally, so that will be a challenge. At the end of the day we love what we do – it’s a nice feeling to be able to really help someone get back on their feet when something tragic has happened.