Is there still a place for old school insurance brokers, who get to know their clients, use the phone or even write letters? Maybe so. Insurance Edge chatted with Samantha Davies, Operations Manager at Lumley Insurance Brokers to find out how technology is useful, but nothing beats old fashioned service.
IE; High Net Worth is one of those areas where people skills still matter, rather than using technology to automate things?
SD; It is, very much so. In fact insurtech isn’t really changing the way we do business because so much of what we do is about accurate valuations of assets and that can be a very in-depth, almost academic process. You can only do HNW insurance if it’s bespoke, that’s what we believe, because every client is slightly different and their asset portfolio reflects that.
IE; Has the recent rise in gold bullion affected your client base, and valuations of jewellery in particular?
SD; It has to a degree, and we always advise clients that they have a jewellery collection re-appraised and valued professionally every three years anyway. But the bullion value is just part of the equation because quite a bit of jewellery is stone-set, so the value of emeralds and diamonds is again very bespoke. It can be affected by the cut, clarity, style of the piece – there’s a great deal to it when it comes to knowing what a particular item of jewellery, or a collection, might be worth in terms of market value, or replacement value – which are two entirely different things of course.
We are pro-active, in that we advise clients to have clasps and fasteners checked every two years, plus claws checked professionally, so that valuable stones aren’t lost.
IE; Gents watches are another area where values of pre-owned examplesa have really gone up lately, especially some Patek, Rolex and Audemars Piguet models. How do you track the pre-owned market values?
SD; We have a team of experts that we work with in the watch market, so that we get regular updates and can pass on that information to clients who may be watch collectors. This is another area where specialised knowledge is required, you certainly cannot automate it by app!
As a team at Lumley we also pool our knowledge within the business, so each of us may have a particular inetrest in jewellery, art, watches, cars etc. and that really does help make Lumley more appealing as a specialist broker. You need that passion for wine, fine art, horses, boats and so on, to truly understand where your clients are coming from and what they need in terms of coverage.
IE; What are the trends that you see in HNW insurance right now?
SD; We are seeing people inherit a portfolio of assets and often have no specialised knowledge of say classic cars, or modern art. A mainstream broker might also struggle to get a true value on such items and then there’s the issue of non-replacement on some vintage items, because you cannot have another piece of fine art, or a classic car supplied new, it would be a replica. So it comes down to loss – what is the value of that loss, if the worst happens?
It is a sensitive process too, you need a broker who is patient as well as knowledgeable.
Another trend we have noticed is that many HNW clients have two or three homes, with a range of assets at each location. That raises questions regarding security, or offering specific advice on the transfer of assets, or perhaps secure storage regulations in different countries. Things like safes or strong rooms and all the standards surrounding them is another area where we have acquired knowledge so that we can support clients with the correct, compliant, advice.
You always have to understand the balance between someone wanting to enjoy their lifestyle, whilst protecting their assets. It is a fine line and that’s why we believe there will always be a place for a broker service like ours at Lumley.
IE; Interesting insights – thanks for your time.