To kick start 2021, our ExCom has provided insight into the past year and how this shaped SRIS as a specialist insurance broker, known for doing difficult things well. As with any year, there is bound to be new challenges that are faced by all businesses, including ours, but here we look at key topics such as Brexit, exiting the lockdown and the hardening insurance market and how we plan to support our clients through the next 12 months and beyond.

What significant events took place in the insurance industry in 2020?

If anybody had said at the beginning of 2020 that talk in relation to continued preparations to leave the EU – deal/or no deal – would take a back seat to a deadly pandemic sweeping across the world, nobody would have believed it. 2020 was like no other year previous and hopefully, like no other year going forward. As a broker, seeing so many of our client’s businesses challenged, more or less overnight, for their very survival was heart-breaking. For the government to wrongly suggest that Insurers may be able to assist with COVID-19 claims was not only misleading but also irresponsible.

For our whole company to be asked to work from home towards the end of March, and almost a year later to still be there has, like so many other businesses, thrown up its challenges. Video conferencing the new norm, whilst surveying the interior of your colleague’s houses. To have overcome the majority of those challenges whilst witnessing the resilience of fellow human beings has been truly uplifting. As we turn our attention to 2021, we see light at the end of the tunnel. The path to that light will be challenging for us and our clients. An increasingly hardening market, business continuing to struggle for their very existence through suppressed demand and the fallout from Brexit, we recognise our clients need our help and support more than ever. We will not shirk these challenges; we will instead embrace them.

Dominic D’Inverno, Director – Corporate

What did SRIS achieve in 2020?

2020 saw the merger of Miles Smith Insurance Solutions, Square Mile Broking, David Codling and Associates and the TUE Special Risks team to create Specialist Risk Insurance Solutions (SRIS). We spent the beginning of the year getting to know our new colleagues and becoming excited about what we could create together as SRIS.

It is fair to say that 2020 saw a lot of change for all of us, but we took great comfort as an ExCom that all our SRIS colleagues were wholeheartedly committed to putting our clients’ interests at the heart of everything we do. When we merged the businesses together, we were able to unite on the common theme of the client’s needs being our guiding factor in all our decision making.

In July, we launched SRIS and since then we have all been working hard to ensure that trading with us is as seamless as possible. We have undertaken a project to define the benefits of being an SRIS client and we look forward to rolling that out to our clients in the coming months.

Other highlights have included two of our colleagues, Grant Barham and Laurence Owens passing their ACII. A significant achievement whilst maintaining full-time jobs and going through a national lockdown! We also partnered with several third-party service providers, who we will work with to further support our clients in protecting their business against the risks they face.

We are all looking forward to what 2021 will bring as we continue to assist our clients in the specialist industries with which they operate.

Annie Wakeman, Head of Group Marketing

What impact will the hard market have on insurance premiums in 2021?

In addition to the economic impact caused by COVID-19 and the uncertainty of Brexit lingering, 2020 saw the whole insurance sector firmly enter a hard market. Across most classes (Liability / Property / Motor Fleet / Product Guarantee/recall) rates are anticipated to increase between 5-10% in 2021. However, in some classes, notably Professional Indemnity and Directors & Officers, we have already witnessed rate increases of more than 50%!

During a hard market, insurers will write fewer insurance policies, some will pull out of certain markets and fewer insurers will be competing for new customers. As a result, many businesses will struggle to secure cover at a similar premium as rates are likely to increase at the next renewal.

To mitigate the impact of the hard market, we will work closely with our clients and will carry out early pre-renewal engagement where we will educate them on the hardening insurance market and highlight the implications this brings. We can use our relationships in the market and our extensive knowledge in risk management guidance to negotiate comprehensive cover on behalf of our clients on competitive terms. We hope this will gain their trust and they will be confident that we offer the most competitive and widest cover available, whilst providing an exemplary service.

Cliff Butters, Special Risks Director

What impact will Brexit have on the insurance industry?

I have three tips for businesses to ensure they know how to manage a Hard Brexit insurance programme:

“Get your Green Card request in now”

With immediate effect, motor travel into the EU will require this legally recognised document prior to your departure. Your Green Card will provide confirmation to all interested parties that you have Motor insurance that conforms to the minimum legal requirement in your designated country of travel. Failure to produce this document will prevent access and contribute to severe logistical disruption that could have damaging effects on your business. Get your request in now to avoid potential delays.

“Buffer stock but avoid unnecessary stockpiling”

Please remember to review your sums insured to maintain adequate cover. Whilst some policies have seasonally adjusted increases, standard policy provision is most likely to be totally inadequate to protect you against the damaging effects of underinsurance. Additional warehouse storage space may also be required to avoid a shortage of raw materials and stock, but please be careful to avoid unnecessary stockpiling. Take advantage of a midterm review with your Account Management team who are available to guide you through this difficult time.

“Supply Chain Management and Business Continuity”

In addition to insuring higher levels of stock, you may also need to consider the availability of Spare Parts and replacement Machinery. This is especially important if required at short notice. The availability of new suppliers will also be an important factor to consider, especially in the event of a continued period of disruption. So, plan ahead and please remember to update your Business Continuity programme to include protection against an extended period of Brexit disruption.

Our expert team are here to help and deliver on our promise – “Difficult. Done Well.”.

Grant Irwin, Associate Director (Client Development)

How can businesses risk management programmes complement their insurance programme as the world exits lockdown and gets back to ‘normal’?

As we continue through a hard market where rates are set to increase and cover becomes more restricted, insurers are now more than any time in the last 15 years, keen to understand what risk management controls a business has in place (Business Continuity and Health & Safety).

Clients that can demonstrate the level of, and controls they have in place around risk management will be able to limit the impact the hard market has on them. Working with an insurance broker that understands the market cycles and has a thorough understanding of your risk management processes, procedures and plans will further help mitigate the impacts.

In today’s world, reviewing your risk management processes around Business Continuity and Health & Safety should not just be limited to your Liability, Property and Motor Fleet risks. Increasingly, more concerning threats to your businesses come in the form of areas such as Cyber Crime and the measures you have in place to protect the business from an attack.

Risk management in its best form is not a set of documents, but a way of life in the fabric of the business that everyone buys into and contributes to.

Now is the time to ensure that your business has reviewed and can clearly articulate the extent you go to, to manage and mitigate your risks. From Identifying the risks your business is exposed to, to the management, review and everything in between, our specialist team can assist you.

Avoid risks, reduce risks, share risks, retain risks, you decide!

David Garrad, Commercial Director

How are SRIS going to support our clients through the challenges of 2021 (Brexit, exiting lockdown and the hard market)?

Each of our clients have unique requirements and face distinct challenges based on the risks their businesses are exposed to and the industry in which they operate. Each year we are faced with new challenges however, with Brexit, changes in business practices following COVID-19 and the hardening insurance market, we will be working even closer with our clients to advise them how this impacts their business and how it can affect their insurance portfolio.

As our client’s trusted insurance advisor, the most important thing we will do to support our clients is provide regular communication. We are committed to educating our clients on areas such as emerging risks, changes in legislation, risk management and product benefits. A key benefit of working with SRIS is that our service is tailored to the requirements of each client and therefore, we will provide as much support as the client requires.

Andrew Costello, Director – Commercial

How is technology impacting our client’s insurance programmes?

Technology is changing the way people live their lives, how they run their businesses and how they expect to be informed/updated and engaged with. As a result, the insurance industry needs to respond to these changing demands and needs.

2020 turbocharged the adoption of technology due to the need for businesses to react to the implications of lockdowns, enable remote working and overcome international trade challenges post Brexit. The COVID-19 pandemic has also challenged any latent inertia for digital adoption as we all get used to working remotely, trading and buying online. This growth in digital adoption has coincided with a growth in investment in almost all industries in automation and connected devices (Internet of Things), the adoption of machine learning (artificial intelligence) and all businesses realising how digitally dependant they are.

Cyber insurance has been an insurance class that we have been advising clients on for 10+ years and has been in existence since the late 1990s in one form or another. However, this risk class often considered a “nice to have” has become an essential protection for almost all companies in recent years and certainly more so in 2020. Cyber insurance was initially considered a Liability protection that would provide indemnity for costs and awards for any inadvertent transmission of virus or third party loses due to a data breach or hack/Cyber event. It was also a class of insurance that generally only larger financial institutions, digital or politically exposed organisations considered as most business owners would question, “who’s going to hack me?”. Unfortunately, the answer to that question in recent years has increasingly become “anyone!”.

Due to the exponential growth in untargeted attacks from malicious software such as ransomware that spreads without agenda like an airborne virus; the massive increase in phishing emails, and the increase in sophistication of social engineering scams, every business in the UK can fall victim to a cyber loss and this is not a problem that can be solved by just investing in technology. Cyber insurance today is not just a protection that provides Indemnity for costs and awards, or even for costs to put right any system damage or reinstatement of data. Cyber insurance will provide indemnity for any lost revenue whilst systems are down/interrupted, and it will cover any lost revenue for a period after the event should a business lose custom/orders or market share. However, the main benefit to any Cyber and Crime insurance programme is the proactive breach response covers that a policy delivers. Access to a paid-for suite of tier-one advisors to guide a business through the immediate aftermath and recovery from any cyber event. This includes access to a panel of expert advisors including Legal Counsel, Forensic IT Support, PR, Comms, and Ongoing Credit Monitoring for third parties/customers.

Chris Lennon, Sales and Development Director

What can clients look forward to from SRIS in 2021?

The year 2020 was one where businesses across the UK and the world had to adapt to the ever-changing environment in which they operate. At Specialist Risk, we were proud to be able to safely move all our staff to be working from home and fully operational within 48 hours of the Government’s announcement of Lockdown 1.0 in March 2020.

As we have entered 2021 and with the recent announcement of Lockdown 3.0, our staff will continue to provide you with expert advice, intelligent insurance solutions and risk management expertise. Over the last 12 months we have been developing our Client Service Charter which we are looking forward to sharing with you soon.

The way in which businesses interact with each other has been changed forever however, we appreciate that to gain a deep understanding of your business, face to face contact is extremely important. In the short term, this will have to occur virtually, though we are optimistic and confident following the initial rollout of vaccines, that this can return to being in person.

Whilst these will be challenging times our staff are here to guide you through how best to assess the risks you face, mitigate where appropriate and protect your business with market-leading insurance products.

We look forward to working with you through the economic environment into a prosperous future.

Nick Porter, Strategic Retail Manager

Closing words from our Managing Director, Lee Anderson

It is no secret, at the heart of SRIS is our people. We invest in our employees to ensure they have the knowledge and expertise to deal with the requirements of our clients. As our employees genuinely enjoy working for Specialist Risk, they go above and beyond when servicing our clients and therefore, our clients are happy in return.

In 2020, we achieved so much as a business. In such trying circumstances, our people worked tirelessly to support our clients in every way possible and we have received such positive feedback from our clients. In 2021, SRIS will continue growing as we take further steps in our Group journey of becoming a top 20 UK broker and in the coming months, we will be launching several services to further support our clients, making the benefits of working with SRIS even clearer. Watch this space!

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