Auckland-based insurance broker James Bidwell has over 18 years of experience in the insurance industry, and decided to kick off his career by tackling one of the most demanding areas of the sector – liability.
The fast-paced nature of the various industry sectors, along with ever changing regulation requirements, makes liability a tough topic to pin down, and, according to Bidwell, a thorough understanding of your client’s business and industry is crucial to securing the right cover.
Speaking to Insurance Business, Bidwell talks about how he entered the industry, the challenges of navigating liability insurance, and what a broker needs to do to get it right.
“I reasoned to myself that if I was going to enter this industry by choice, I wanted to get my head around the most challenging suite of insurance products,” said Bidwell. “At that early stage of my career (circa. 2001) I jumped right into the deep end, such was the scope and volume of technical information I was absorbing with liability-related policies. I have always thrived on new challenges and I saw this as one I could embrace.”
“The quality of submission to underwriters is critical in ensuring that the risk is assessed correctly, and it needs to encompass a great level of detail,” he explained. “Naturally, this makes information gathering a critical component of the process. You need to thoroughly understand the client’s business and industry, and have the ability to confidently convey that message across to the underwriters.”
Bidwell says that keeping up to date with changes occurring within specific industries and staying abreast of the fast-paced regulatory environment are the key challenges within this space, and, when it comes to claims, the devil is in the detail. Identifying new and emerging risks is also important, especially when it comes to educating clients on the importance of certain types of cover.
“As a broker, you need to have the expertise and confidence to arrange a comprehensive program for your client that offsets any ‘surprises’ if or when a claim arises,” Bidwell said.
“Accurate Disclosure of Information is vital, as some insurers may take a hard line and decline a claim as the activity falls outside the agreed occupation noted on the policy. It is imperative that the client, via their broker, keeps the insurer informed of relevant changes to their activities.”
“The most prevalent and most documented ‘emerging risk” over the past few years has been cyber, as we continue to stay abreast of the speed and disruption of technology and the internet,” he continued. “As brokers advocating to our client’s needs, including cyber insurance in the conversation is paramount in educating and protecting our clients’ business so that they see value in their insurance spend.”