Headquarters address: 2 Minster Court, London EC3R 7PD, United Kingdom
Year established: 1997
Size (employees): 2,800
Gross written premium: £2 billion (2021)
Underwriting expertise: Home & property, lifestyle, commercial property, business, care & medical, motor
Key people: Richard Tuplin (CEO)
Towergate Insurance Brokers is a specialist insurance broker and part of the UK’s largest independent brokerage firm, Ardonagh Advisory Holdings Ltd. It offers a range of personal and business insurance from a selection of more than 200 general and specialist policies and through its roster of over 2,000 highly trained specialists. The firm boasts a 2,800-strong workforce spread across 70 offices within the country.
Towergate’s product range is categorised in six “specialisms,” namely:
- Home & property – consisting of coverage for residential homes and other properties
- Lifestyle – including caravan, boat, and other leisure-related insurance
- Commercial property – designed for landlords and businesses premises
- Business – comprising its SME and trade products
- Care & medical – consisting of health-related coverages
- Motor – includes products tailored for personal and commercial vehicles
The company follows a business model based on “creating innovative products combined with great customer service, and underpinned by trusted relationships with brokers,” or what Towergate calls the “value triangle,” which represents a three-way partnership between the company, their insurers, and their customers.
A brief history of Towergate
Towergate was founded in 1997 by Peter Cullum to provide specialist insurance to niche markets. The firm has since grown over the years through various acquisitions. In 2006, it acquired Paymentshield, a supplier of payment protection insurance to the intermediary market. This was followed by its acquisition of mortgage advisory firm John Charcol, which allowed it to achieve CII status.
Between 2013 and 2014, Towergate acquired an additional nine independent insurance providers, including class car insurers Footman James and Arista Insurance. However, a massive drop in earnings and mounting debt in 2014 pushed Towergate into a period of uncertainty and in February 2015, the firm was purchased with alternative investment firm Highbridge Principal Strategies becoming the majority shareholder. The deal reduced Towergate’s debt by 60% and provided an additional £75 million in capital.
At the same time, the firm appointed David Ross as CEO after an £8 million settlement to his previous employers Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. In May 2017, Ross announced the formation of a new insurance broking group, KIRS, consisting of Towergate, Autonet, Chase Templeton, Ryan Direct Group, and Price Forbes. The group announced an £800 million bond deal to refinance existing debt and in July that year, the group rebranded to Ardonagh.
As of March 2022, Towergate is led by CEO Richard Tuplin, who replaced Joe Thelwell from the post. Thelwell led the company through the COVID-19 pandemic and an uncertain environment.
Leadership at Towergate
Richard Tuplin – CEO
Tuplin was appointed CEO in March 2022, succeeding Joe Thelwell. Tuplin joined Towergate from Ethos Broking, part of the Ardonagh Advisory platform, where he spent over three years in leadership positions, including as chief development officer and managing director, until becoming the CEO. He also worked in independent broking for 18 years, including as managing director of Jelf Insurance Partnership and regional director of Jelf Insurance Brokers.
Culture at Towergate
In an interview with Insurance Business, Tuplin – who was appointed to Towergate’s top post just last March – the past few months have been exciting, especially now that he is in a position to identify the key drivers that will define the firm’s agenda: to remove complexity, focus on its people, and deliver its proposition to its clients.
Among his early observations from leading the business is his appreciation for the broker’s people, who he described as a “fantastically talented team” as he gushed about how much they care about what they do for their clients. According to Tuplin, having the right talent who are happy and fulfilled in their respective roles is key because that empowerment translates to customer success, and Towergate is now in the position of “renewing its vows” with its people.
“[To attract the right talent], we’ve got to make sure we articulate the opportunity that comes from being part of the insurance profession,” he said. “Because otherwise, we just seem like this giant business that is impersonal, and the truth is absolutely the opposite. We’ve got to communicate that to people who’ve never been in insurance, we’ve got to set out our proposition and make people aware of it.”