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Giving rural brokers a real alternative

Giving rural brokers a real alternative

Giving rural brokers a real alternative In the world of farm insurance in the UK, there is a dominant player in the market. Having yesterday announced a partnership with AIG (see NFU Mutual launches partnership with AIG), NFU Mutual appears to be going from strength to strength as the name that farmers trust making it increasingly difficult for brokers to crack in to this highly personal market.

However, one MGA is hoping to change that.

Bluefin Underwriting, the managing general agent arm of the Bluefin Insurance, has launched two new agricultural products of its own which it hopes can offer a genuine viable alternative. Speaking exclusively to Insurance Business UK, Kyle Lomas, head of farm underwriting at Bluefin, outlined that he hopes both brokers and consumers can benefit.

“Agriculture is one of those areas where there’s not a huge amount of insurers in the space,” he said. “So there are opportunities to bring something new to it. In this market you can do something different. You can go in with a base product, which is what we’ve done – and this is something we can build on to ensure we can encompass all our customers.

“Third party brokers don’t always have access to these products from insurers so we’re also providing a solution for them.”

Bluefin’s new proposition includes farm combined and farm motor. Farm combined provides cover for the farm property and home, liability, livestock, environmental impairment, revenue and more. Farm motor allows all farm vehicles to be covered under one policy including automatic benefits such as uninsured loss recovery and trailers/implements cover, both up to £100,000.

“Yes you can purchase this type of cover with other providers but what we’ve tried to do is come at it with a market leading proposition in terms of cover limits and benefits to the customer – so they can select and choose what they purchase, rather than one size fits all,” commented Lomas.

However, with the NFU so dominant in the sector, Lomas admits that brokers have a challenge on their hands persuading farmers to look at something different – especially when insurance relationships in the sector are often passed from generation to generation.

“It’s a sizeable market and the NFU is probably about two thirds of that market,” he said. “They do a lot for their customers and because there wasn’t a choice with these kind of products in this market historically, the NFU were there and it was almost handed down from farmer to son.

“However, you might get an insured customer who thinks ‘oh actually there are alternatives out there’, and they might be slightly cheaper or they might offer more choice. So brokers are faced with getting that word of mouth out there. This is a sector in which buying habits are generally more personal than commercial – they live and breathe their businesses – they really need to trust the person they’re buying from. That trust is there with the NFU and brokers have to break that inertia and make them see that there is a credible alternative.”

So how can that be done? According to Lomas it’s about offering real quality and then gaining word of mouth.

“It’s about service and delivering on what you say you’re going to do,” he said. “People talk about insurers when there is a claim, especially if it doesn’t pay out or doesn’t fulfil what they expect it to do. So we’re working with broker partners that specialise mainly on agricultural business and are entrenched in this market – we work with them to give them support and advice on the product so they can pass that on to the customer.

“Another of the keys is how you advertise. With this market you can’t have a call centre and have people cold calling because this market doesn’t respond in that way. A lot of business is done over the kitchen table and not necessarily in business hours.

“They need to get the message across that there is an alternative and it could serve your insurance needs better because they are able to go to market and find products that actually suit what it is they do.”

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