Specialist markets director Simon Trott names volume speciality team

simon trott - rk harrison

RK Harrison will target business from farms, caring professions, specialist businesses and specialist personal lines when it opens its new volume speciality lines operation in January.

The centre in Peterborough will begin trading in the first quarter of the new year. The broker is investing over £1m in the call and online trading centre, which will target clients who spend between £500 and £10,000 on insurance each year.

The project is led by Simon Trott (pictured), who joined as specialist markets director from Towergate in March.

Trott has recruited Chris Monaghan as rural and specialist personal lines director and Keith Longthorne as director of caring professions and specialist SME.

Longthorne will start in January and previously ran Towergate’s caring professions division.  Monaghan joined in September from estate agent Countrywide’s insurance division.

They join development and new markets director Liz Mitchell, who joined from BGL, online digital acquisition director Ben Meadows, who will join this month from the chartered institute of purchasing and supply and was previously at BGL, and director of affinity marketing and lead generation Simon Gent. Gent joined from Towergate in July.

Trott has also recruited an operations director who will be announced later this month.

Trott said of his new team: “There is this real appetite for wanting to start something up rather than just going in, pulling a few levers and running an existing business.

“The amount of talent we’re managing to attract is great. I could have done it two or three times over.”

RK Harrison (RKH) plans to recruit 50 staff in the first year of trading and increase that to 80 in two years. Customer-facing staff, who will start from January, will undergo a six week training programme.

Trott added: “We’re not going to do a big razzmatazz launch in January. We want to get the business model operating efficiently first and then we’ll start ramping up our activity after the first quarter.”

Specialists

Trott said rural insurance was the hardest segment RKH intends to enter, with the biggest prize if it is successful.

RKH will go head-to-head with the NFU – which has a 65% market share – as it looks to establish itself as a credible national alternative for small and medium sized farms.

“There are very few brokers out there doing retail sales in the rural world in any big volumes. It’s a complicated product because you’re selling somebody’s personal insurance such as their farm house and vehicle as well as their outbuildings, livestock and liabilities,” Trott said.

“There is a lot of loyalty to the NFU but when you talk to that community, who do they see as a viable alternative to the NFU? It might be a local broker rather than another big player. We want to become a credible alternative.”

Its caring professions division will focus on smaller businesses where the owner is also the manager, including care homes, hospices and domiciliary care providers.

RKH is discussing its new product with five capacity providers at the moment, Trott said.

Its specialist businesses division will target SME groups such as gyms and printers, while its specialist personal lines niche will be announced nearer to the product’s launch date.

RKH is also trying to reduce the documents customers will receive. “Re-writing documentation is not particularly sexy but it will really help us if we get it right to start with,” Trott said.  

Customer acquisition

The centre will initially try to win customers from outbound lead generations online and on the phone before moving onto affinity deals.

Its acquisition strategy for SMEs will be based on outbound phone calls and specialist personal lines online.

Trott said: “Commercial customers don’t tend to go looking for a new broker. We’ve got to build an infrastructure and talk to them about why they should move away from their current provider to us.

“Personal customers don’t like being phoned. They’d rather go online and engage with us when they’ve established that we’re a company they want to engage with.”  

RKH will then look for a limited number of affinity partnerships with trade associations with “strong brand traction and a loyal membership base,” Trott said.

Capacity providers

RKH will try to create a co-insurance model for each product, for which it will come up with its own wording and rating system.

“I’ve always been nervous about solus relationships with one insurer. A consortium orientated model, whether that’s insurers or Lloyd’s market, is probably a safer place to be,” Trott said.

RKH-owned managing general agent Aqua Underwriting would be a capacity provider where it’s right for the customer, he added.

Trott said the track record of his senior management team would persuade capacity providers to back to the new venture.

“Me, my management team, or other people within RKH have got a good track record of making insurers money in the sectors we want to go into,” he said.

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