Life-saving boss on the one error that led to insurance career

Now she tells Insurance Business: “I really couldn’t imagine being anywhere else”

Life-saving boss on the one error that led to insurance career

Broker focus

By Terry Gangcuangco

They say you learn from your mistakes... In the case of Country & Commercial Insurance Brokers Ltd (CCIB) managing director Debbie Airey (pictured), it was one error of hers that led to her now 36-year insurance career.

Here Airey tells Insurance Business how it all started and why she can’t picture herself not being part of the industry.

What brought you to the world of insurance?
I started my career as a travel agent as I wanted to see the world; however, I managed to put a wrong code in the system and sent someone to the Costa del Sol instead of Torremolinos. After that experience I moved on and joined Swinton Insurance Group. I then joined AA Insurance Services, which had set up in the 1980s, and completed all my sales training with them and won awards for my sales results.

What led you to co-found CCIB more than a decade ago?
We live and work in a small market town surrounded by the farming community. I was raised on a farm myself and always felt a strong sense of community.

There was one major player in the agricultural insurance market and I saw an opportunity to work with our local community and provide hands-on service. The ultimate reason for the success of CCIB is that I genuinely care about the community, and so do all of us in the CCIB team.

What has changed since the agricultural brokerage was acquired by Global Risk Partners?
The business had reached a certain size and we needed help to move to the next level. The support we have received being part of the GRP family has been fantastic. It’s helped us to open doors and start conversations. I have now been appointed head of national practices for agricultural in the GRP group which gives me the opportunity to share with others my knowledge and passion for the sector.

As managing director of CCIB, what do you envision for the business?
With our first acquisition under our belt, the future looks bright. We plan to bring new products to the market and grow our FAB (Federation of Agricultural Brokers) network across the UK, sharing our expertise and becoming a credible alternative to the major player in our sector. We need to take our philosophy out there, build on our community spirit, and aim to be the best in our sector.

Where would you be if not in insurance?
Maybe I missed my opportunity to travel the world, but I really couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I think the insurance industry has a trust problem with the public, but where else would I have built a fantastic business, worked with amazing people, and even get to go duck herding?

Name one thing your peers probably don’t know about you.
I have bought a trike to go biking in the countryside with my husband Paul, so I’m going to become a biker chick in my 50s. I took a group of customers and staff to The Price is Right on TV with Joe Pasquale and ended up being a contestant. I saved my husband’s life on our wedding day, after he had a heart attack, and I did CPR for 13 minutes before the ambulance arrived.

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