Death and taxes aside, there is one other certainty in the life of a business owner.
Insurance is a minefield.
It is complicated, often frustrating and a significant annual expense. For many in the transport and plant and machinery space, now is as challenging a time as ever.
But while many of these businesses are owned by specialists in their field, they often still rely on ‘generalist’ brokers to protect their operations.
After 15 years insuring road transport businesses, David Summers decided to start the niche firm Ausure Horizon two years ago.
Since then his team has experienced exceptional growth, and with a solid foundation of clients, some of which go back decades, David understands that the success of his business is directly linked to the success of his clients.
“Our focus is to provide peace of mind for our customers. This is especially important in the current market where clients are being heavily penalised for every claim” he says. “The days of blanket ‘cookie cutter’ policies are long gone as a viable insurance product.”
Now, more than ever it’s as important to risk manage the premium as it is to risk manage the assets. For some freight carriers 2020 has been one of their busiest years on record. But for transport businesses in hospitality and events, trucks have likely been laid up for some time.
This is another area that Ausure Horizon can provide options to ensure businesses are not burdened with unnecessary costs for vehicles that are not generating an income.
“It shouldn’t be a matter of getting a quote from three brokers who package up their standard offerings, but rather engaging a specialist who understands the nuances of how to effectively tailor a personalised insurance program,” David says.
“Great brokers work extremely closely with their clients to understand their business and their financial capabilities to take on risk by applying the right amount of insurance to the most critical exposures.
“There are more options on how you structure a transport policy than you may think. You could have a ‘burner’ which is like a deposit premium, which is adjustable, based on claims. There’s a ‘claims experience discount’ that rewards businesses with a percentage of their premium back following a low claim year. Then there is an ‘aggregate premium’ where the owner consents to wear all the claim costs during a policy to an agreed limit before the insurer steps in to help in those unfortunate years that claim costs begin to escalate. It’s not straight forward.”
The same holds true of claim management, where a culmination of small claims can often be as detrimental as several large losses according to David.
“If a business has made two small claims early in their policy period it becomes increasingly important to be mindful what future losses will mean for premiums years down the track,” he says. “It’s no longer a case of ‘set it and forget it.’ There needs to be an open dialogue between the business owner and their broker that extends beyond an annual review, rolled over cover and an invoice.”
David acknowledges that insurance can be a begrudging purchase.
“We understand why. You’re paying up front for a product that protects against the unexpected. You then receive a document that probably contains 98 pages full of conditions and exclusions” he explains.
“In essence you’re paying for something you hope doesn’t happen. But peace of mind is invaluable. From our standpoint, cover needs to be broad and reliable, with premiums that are as competitive as possible.”
A third-generation business owner himself, David understands the needs of businesses evolve over time and that maintaining long-lasting relationships hinges on being there when it counts.
“This year has highlighted that things can change quickly. Events such as COVID-19 can catch businesses by surprise, and a policy that was suitable at renewal may not continue to react as you expect as the industry adapts.” he says. “It’s times like these that show the importance of having a proactive broker that really understands the unique challenges and opportunities faced by the trucking industry fighting in your corner.”