Last month, the insurance community was buzzing for the return of in-person networking, with the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) conference finally returning face-to-face after 3 years of COVID disruption. Stealing attention away from the thrill of finally meeting colleagues in the flesh, and the imposing Victorian architecture of the Manchester Central exhibition hall, was a sleek black hearse mysteriously parked outside the venue. A floral arrangement inside directed curious visitors to the Kingsbridge stand…but just what were we up to?
We caught up with Jonathan Swift from Insurance Age to tell all in an exclusive interview with Gary Williamson, Managing Director of Kingsbridge Insurance Brokers, which is now available to watch in full on their website.
“The idea of the hearse was to get people talking and send them on their way to the Kingsbridge stand, where they could find out all about a brand new product being launched this year – Kingsbridge Funeral Directors insurance.”
“Our new Funeral Services Insurance product offers complete coverage for property, liability and fleet. With our significant sector experience, we understand the unique needs of the funeral industry and have created a bespoke package that can be adapted to the requirements of the client. As standard, our cover includes loss of deceased’s possessions, damage to memorial items, funeral flowers and coffins in transit and expands to cover connected trades. Customers can also tailor their package to include professional indemnity, engineering inspection, cyber cover, funeral vehicle breakdown and loss of licence. Kingsbridge knows that this is a time of change and emerging risks for the funeral industry – we want to be there with a product that supports funeral businesses to deal with new challenges. Our appearance in Manchester with a hearse was there to represent this new partnership and venture – we wanted to get people talking about our product, and it certainly gained a reaction from the BIBA crowd!”
As well as Kingsbridge’s launch of the funeral directors cover, Gary explains in the interview, this also marks Kingsbridge’s growing expansion into wholesale and online. While the group has previously focused on direct retail sales in its specialist markets, we have a big, bold plan for expansion which has seen us launch our core products to a select panel of brokers. Kingsbridge are proud to be very well-known in the specialist sectors that we operate in – in particular, recruitment and umbrella insurance, contractor and freelance insurance, and construction insurance. We are now delighted to be able to offer these products to wholesale markets. “We’ve got some great products that I think could offer some real value from a broking perspective,” says Gary.
And that’s not all – Gary was able to reveal that Kingsbridge have another three (minimum) products waiting in the wings to launch by the end of 2022. He is keen to emphasise that this isn’t a grab, but part of a carefully thought-out strategy that will ensure Kingsbridge is able to offer the same level of expertise and specialism as clients have come to expect from our existing products: “We’re not jumping into sectors blindly, it’s around really focused, driven, sector specialisms, understanding the markets that we’re in”. As customers, clients and brokers have come to expect from Kingsbridge, a deep understanding of the needs, compliance and operations of specialist markets will be central to all the new products being developed, and the accompanying support and customer service that goes hand-in-hand.
The interview was also a chance to talk about Kingsbridge’s acquisition by US insurance broker NSM in 2020, and how that has changed the business for the better. “The synergy was really obvious”, Gary reflects, highlighting how NSM’s strategy of operating in niche spaces and sectors tallies exactly with Kingsbridge’s own market position here in the UK. NSM have been helpfully hands-off, allowing Kingsbridge the space to flourish as its own brand, but also pushing the business to grow and develop. Now with the extra weight of new NSM owners Carlyle, Kingsbridge are well-positioned to expand into those new markets and continue to grow in our existing specialisms: “If anything, that just fast-tracks our appetite for significant growth,” Gary enthuses.
This new energy from above is also reflected in the composition of the Kingsbridge crew. Gary is proud of the “fantastic” team of people that Kingsbridge has hand-picked over the past couple of years, and our young leadership team who are poised to grow into new sectors.
“BIBA this year was a really special experience for Kingsbridge, as it will have been for many other colleagues in the insurance sector. For some of our team, it was their first BIBA, despite having worked in the biz now for over two years! For others, it was a chance to get back to developing relationships in person, something that we’ve all missed throughout COVID. Nothing beats face to face!” says Gary, “It was brilliant to be back.”
And, of course, for the Kingsbridge team, the buzz around our hearse added an extra level of fun to the conference – we love to be a talking point! After 3 years off, it was exciting to be able to surprise BIBA attendees before they even got in the venue. We’re already starting plans for how we might top it next time. As Gary says, it will depend on what our focus is next: “it could be a tank, it could be a horse-box, it could be a marching band, who knows, but it will certainly be something fun!” Watch this space!
If you’re a broker and you’re looking to add the Kingsbridge cover to your product range, you can request an agency here. Don’t forget you can watch our interview in full over at the Insurance Age – thanks so much to Jonathan and team for having us as their guests to discuss the exciting future of the Kingsbridge Group!