The broker has had to spend millions of pounds as a result of Alpha’s collapse
A London-based broker has revealed the full extent of the damage suffered as a result of partnering up with unrated Danish insurer Alpha.
Since Alpha’s collapse earlier this year, structural home defects broker CRL has spent millions in notifying its 30,000 affected customers, setting up a dedicated call centre and legal and exceptional customer service costs.
On top of this CRL chief executive Steve Mansour admitted his company’s reputation had taken a hit, but he maintains the decision to partner with Alpha was not irresponsible.
“The fallout of the Alpha bankruptcy has meant considerable reputational damage to the CRL brand,” admits the company’s chief executive Steve Mansour. “Many people assumed that it was CRL that had failed. Even when it was clear this wasn’t the case they quite reasonably said ‘We gave you the money so you’re responsible’.”
While the majority of customers look set to have their policies transferred to another carrier by the FSCS, Mansour has warned that for around 3,500 customers there will be financial pain.
This applies to customers who have built properties themselves, including developers, small contractors and self-builders. Mansour said in some of these cases, the FSCS will not currently regard them as ‘consumers’, and may not therefore be protected by the scheme.
“Not only do they have to buy additional retrospective cover, the cost of the new insurance is likely to be higher, as the risk profile has changed,” said Mansour.
“This, quite understandably, is not a satisfactory situation, and we are working hard to lessen the impact, and while these customers can claim against Alpha’s bankruptcy estate for a refund of premiums paid, CRL and their Principals BCR Legal Group Limited are working hard to find better solutions to support customers’ projects.”
The insurer is currently working with the FSCS to find a solution in the best interests of consumers and CRL, but Mansour conceded that “nobody is winning from this unfortunate affair. It’s been a bruising experience for everyone.”
Despite this, Mansour maintains that it was not an irresponsible decision to partner with Alpha, and has been touring the country holding meetings since the collapse to speak directly with customers affected.
“Alpha itself was essentially a sound business, when taken in the context of their filed accounts, and reports from the Danish regulator. Mansour added, “but it found itself caught up in the collapse of New Zealand B++ rated insurer CBL.
“Alpha’s collapse was completely unexpected by the entire industry.”
But Mansour said CRL takes its share of responsibility and that the experience had prompted changes at the business to ensure a similar situation does not happen again. Principally this will involve spreading the risk over a number of insurers going forward.
Mansour added: “We are truly sorry that our customers find themselves in this situation and our message for the future is both CRL and BCR are in the market for the long haul; we have learned from many issues created by Alpha’s collapse and are continuing to improve all aspects of the business to ensure that the products and services offered to our customers are as strong as possible going forward, while we continue to provide the highest level of service possible to our customers.”
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