’We are incredibly proactive when it comes to building broker relationships,’ says divisional managing director

Brokers remain the “biggest and most important” distribution channel in Markel’s growth strategy.

That was according to Neil Galjaard, divisional managing director of Markel UK, who told Insurance Times that “strong relationships” were the “cornerstone” of the firm’s success.

“For us, it’s not just about being an insurer, it’s about being a trusted partner and delivering sustainable solutions for our brokers and their clients,” he said.

“Throughout 2023, underwriting, business development and support staff were actively recruited to maintain and build upon broker service levels in line with our business growth.”

As part of this recruitment spree. Jo Sykes was appointed as Markel’s new divisional director for the UK broker channel on 5 December 2023.

Based in the Leeds office, Sykes has full profit and loss responsibility for the growing Markel broker distribution segment. 

“We are incredibly proactive when it comes to building broker relationships and adapting our business to meet their needs,” Galjaard said.


This came after brokers gave Markel an overall four-star rating for Insurance Times’ 2022/23 Five Star Rating Report: Commercial and Personal lines.

Galjaard said that “Markel has grown strongly over the last few years” and that one of its ”main challenges has been to create an infrastructure that continues to match this growth and deliver the levels of service our brokers expect”.

“We would never claim that this job is finished, it’s a continuous process,” he said.

“But we have made significant investments in people and systems to create a robust trading environment for our brokers.”

Galjaard highlighted Markel Construction’s launch on 21 August 2023 as an example of this, claiming it ”was another exciting recent development that will further help to build our broker relationships”.

The proposition offers a full range of covers and extensions to meet policyholder requirements and was launched after Markel conducted 30 hours of qualitative interviews with brokers and end clients.

“Brokers have specifically told us that they like our specialist sector-led approach and we continually assess the market to see if there are new opportunities,” Galjaard said.

”Last year, after extensive research with brokers and businesses, we launched our new construction proposition to the market.

”The reaction has been very positive and is helping to deepen the relationships we have with our brokers.”