1 SaffronNews ISSUE 6 JUNE 2012 Service is everything p1 When is a riot not a riot? p9 Protecting yourself from floods p13
2 Service is everything Any great financial service is about far more than just the price. The clue is in the second word service. In my experience, while our customers are obviously satisfied with the cover that we find for them, it is the service that keeps them coming back to us. This is true of so many industries the service really can boost the experience of any product. One thing that shocks me most when using any service-based industry is when good manners are allowed to slip, as if they re something dated and irrelevant. A simple please and thank you costs nothing, and makes all the difference at every stage of a customer s experience whether that s when they make their first enquiry (and therefore first impression!), or when they are handing over their payment details having committed to buy what s on offer. Hello! How are you? Please Thank you! How can I help you? Service and courtesy ultimately hinge on respect, not just for the people that you are serving, but for yourself. If you truly value yourself and your role within the process, then you will provide service and not servitude. In taking pride and pleasure in serving, you can become truly passionate about your career. This passion can often be infectious, driving up the whole team to aspire to the very highest standards. Such inspirational behaviour is the stuff that leaders are made of, and, in a business like ours, is the foundation that will take you to the top of your game. I understand that some consumers may want to purchase items in other ways; I often shop online myself. The internet provides a convenient way to purchase many items; but in doing so, are you focusing solely on buying a product? While aggregators provide a snapshot of the insurance market, they use a pre-determined list of criteria for comparisons which may not give the full picture about what s included in each quote. Such sites also assume a level of understanding and ultimately the consumer is making the decision based on reading and digesting the information in front of them. Where is the service? Please I m here to help Hello! How are you? Thank you! I m here to help Thank you! Can I help you?
3 Customer testimonials We often receive calls from customers that have shopped online and are then very confused about what they are purchasing and require some assistance. Who could they ask if they had questions about the suggested policies? Some customers worry that their questions are trivial or unimportant. As far as I m concerned, there is no such thing. I like to think that every Saffron customer feels important and well looked-after throughout their dealings with us. If that involves calling them when it s convenient, checking we understand all of their requirements, explaining the policy features in depth, and being very clear about each step of our processes, then so be it. On the rare occasion that we make a mistake, we try our utmost to rectify the problem as quickly as possible with the minimum disruption for the customer. I don t care whether the customer is taking out a modest policy on their old run-around or passing a full commercial insurance portfolio to us I feel passionately that the highest standards of service should be at the heart of every contact that they have with us. After all, at Saffron with 90% of our customers staying with us it proves that a little time, care and attention can build relationships that truly last. I hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter. David What you have said to us It is so refreshing speaking to a human being rather than the internet and adds an excellent personal touch to the experience. Jo Excellent service and saved 30% against our previous policy which wouldn t cover the rental element! Liz My wife and I would like to thank you all for the very efficient way our accident claim was handled. We are both highly impressed. Obviously we hope this doesn t happen too often (!) but it is good to know that help is there when needed. Chris I would just like to say thank you and your team for responding very quickly to my damaged property because of a burst tank. This whole situation was dealt with the minimum of fuss and good professionalism. Fred I was very impressed by both the speed of response and high standard of service I received from Saffron Insurance. I will definitely contact Saffron when I need another quotation and I will not hesitate to recommend your company to others in the future. Abbotts Wills and Probate Services Ltd 2
4 Changes at Saffron Insurance Sometimes taking time to reflect on the needs of your business is worth every minute. Over the last few months we have reviewed the way that we operate and the structure of Saffron Insurance, and this has prompted some significant changes, particularly to our personal lines division. Our plans are to enter 2013 with greater confidence in the future. We want to support and motivate our staff; an energised workforce will improve customer service and create an excellent working environment. Over the summer we will be centralising many teams in Saffron Walden, bringing knowledge and specialisms together. Our claims, specialist vehicle, high value and personal insurance teams will all work together. This will improve our customers experience as account handlers will draw on the expertise of other team members to satisfy the most complex of customers needs. We ve all experienced long call waiting times as we re pushed from pillar to post with no positive outcome. This will not be the Saffron way. Our plans will make sure that we engage with our customers in the way they want. We will maintain our local office presence. In Royston we will create a second commercial centre to sit alongside our successful Haverhill office. This will give us greater reach for commercial clients. We will be recruiting and growing over the next few months, creating good career opportunities for the local community. We plan to continue our expansion by increasing the number of offices we have in East Anglia, and we are currently looking at various opportunities to realise this growth.
5 Saffron Insurance talking Commercial Other issues may include latent pollution, employment contracts, condition of properties or outstanding litigation. There is a danger that such warranties and indemnities could come back to haunt you long after the deal has been done. Selling your company? Selling a company can be a fraught process. But once the contract is signed and the money handed over, you may not be totally free of the past. The purchaser will probably want you to indemnify them against any inaccurate information which emerges at a later date. For example, they may require full indemnity against any liability to pay tax in respect of periods prior to the acquisition and this could stretch back up to six years. There could be concerns about contracts which formed part of the sale, such as those relating to intellectual property, where you cannot show absolutely clear title. A purchaser will often require the seller to put part of the price paid for the company into a retention account for up to three years. This guards against something emerging later on that was not revealed by the due diligence procedure. You will not be able to make use of this retention until the expiry period, although it will be invested in an interest-bearing account. Warranty and indemnity insurance is the safest way of avoiding such problems which may not be apparent when the deal is being done. Such policies can be tailored to cover each of the areas of liability and protect you against claims. Anyone required to give warranties can insure. This will include corporate bodies, selling shareholders, directors and trustees. These policies can play a key role in your risk management once the transaction has been completed and you have the security of knowing that your nest egg cannot be snatched back from you. Clearly, the expertise of your insurance broker is paramount. They must understand the complexities of the deal, the requirements of the client, and, in association with other professional advisers, collate all appropriate documentation. This is where we can provide expert support and advice, please contact us on to discuss any questions further. 4
6 The reality of cyber risks Almost all businesses today rely upon systems for online sales, stock control, office applications or . A failure of these systems can have catastrophic effects on the bottom line. Cyber threats are numerous and well-documented; it is thought that worldwide, one PC is infected every 4.5 seconds and in addition to infection, your systems may be exposed to deliberate sabotage or criminal intent. Recovery from cyber damage Reports suggest system downtime can cost organisations 10,000 per hour rising to as much as 1million per business day. Time spent sourcing replacements can result in a total loss of online sales. Similarly the failure of retailers systems can not only mean immediate lost sales, but longer reputational damage. Reinstating systems, audits, data recovery and the increased cost of working add pressure for an organisation in already turbulent times. A case in point Many hotels use computerised systems for bookings, managing availability, and showing when a room is vacated, cleaned and ready for occupancy. Their restaurants use electronic ordering and billing facilities which link to a room, ready for production of bills when guests check out. The failure of internal systems can create havoc, lost revenue and extra expense to rectify the problem. A bad review on Trip Advisor or other consumer website can cause immeasurable losses in the longer term. Many companies also hold personal information about their clients and disclosure of this through hacking or lost laptops may breach data protection law, resulting in potential legal action against the company. Mitigating cyber risks Not all cyber risks relate to system failures. The loss of personally identifiable data, the publication online of images and content that infringes intellectual property rights or disparaging words on a website or in an can result in legal action against the organisation, resulting in litigation costs and the potential settlement payments. Network security, infrastructure and procedures are not sufficient on their own. This is where financial protection insurance policies can assist organisations to recoup some of those costs. For more information please contact the commercial team on
7 Saffron Insurance talking Commercial Keep up to date with what s going on at Saffron Join us on Facebook Sign up for product alerts at 6
8 Landlords and Saint Andrews Bureau At Saffron Insurance we are proud of our work with local businesses. We get to know the business owners well and enjoy a valuable insight into their industries. St Andrews Bureau (SAB) is a family-run property management company. Established in Cambridge in 1959, they now have offices in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and are continuing to grow. Always keen to share a good news story in economically challenging times, we caught up with Kane Astin, Company Director, to find out more. Kane, SAB has clearly been going from strength to strength over recent years. Tell us your news! When we bought the business in 1996, we were managing around 200 properties; now we have around 1500 properties on our books and hundreds of landlords who rely on us to manage their properties. Our comprehensive range of management services are designed to maximise our landlords income while safeguarding their properties. All of our clients are appointed their own property manager who will be on hand to help whenever necessary. Service is paramount to everyone at SAB. We know you re branching out in to property sales how are you finding the rental market at the moment? It s incredibly buoyant. Our client base continues to grow, and it seems to be a great time to invest in property. Is the market highly competitive for you? No, not particularly. There are many companies that offer management services but only a few that really understand the landlords and tenants needs. And again it comes back to service. Is service important to you with companies you work with? Efficiency and professionalism are key. We ve been using Saffron Insurance for over 10 years now, and I can t fault the level of service. It really does make all the difference.
9 Saffron Insurance talking Commercial are on the up! Do you have any tips for investors looking to become landlords? Do your research and ensure that you understand the buy-to-let market to check it s the right investment for you. Next, consider where you want to buy. Many landlords choose to buy property near their home, but is this a promising area? Promising does not mean the area where you can buy cheaply and rent it out at a premium; promising means a place where people would like to live! If you are in a commuter belt, does it have good transport links? Where are the good schools for young families? Where do the students and young professionals want to live? These questions are probably the most important aspect of a successful buy-to-let investment. A good choice will also avoid significant gaps between tenants. Sound advice. Are there any pitfalls to avoid when hunting for a buy-to-let property? I would say never rely on information supplied by anyone with an interest in the sale! Always do your own independent research, it is always worth the effort and could prevent costly mistakes. If you are considering a new-build, ensure there is solid demand to rent at the rate you are proposing. Where should you look for a buy-to-let property? When you know what you re looking for, the following avenues could prove fruitful to find you a suitable investment: Auctions but remember, local properties do not necessarily sell in local auctions Estate Agents, online and offline Weekly Papers advertising local properties for sale Property Finders (they will charge a fee 1% to 2% + VAT) Repossessions Motivated Sellers, looking to move quickly As a buy-to-let investor, you can negotiate a discount in the same way that a firsttime-buyer can; you are not reliant on selling a property to buy another, and therefore are not part of a chain and represent less of a risk of a sale falling through. This can give you great buying power. What then? Decide how you want to manage the property direct, or via an agent, and do your research there too. I d like to think SAB would be on every prospective landlord s shortlist! But in seriousness, a no-obligation chat is always a good idea so that you can compare and contrast service and rates. Finally, ensure you ve appropriate insurance which brings us back to Saffron Insurance, their Property Owners Insurance can be tailored to the needs of each landlord and covers all eventualities. You can find out more about SAB by visiting 8
10 When is a riot not a riot? The effects of the disorder, vandalism and looting we saw across the UK in 2011 are still felt keenly by affected businesses. An estimated 200 million worth of property damage was incurred, and local economic activity was severely compromised in every affected town and city. It has been estimated that retailers lost at least 30,000 trading hours. Despite being consistently referred to as the London Riots or England Riots, there is some debate over whether this did, in fact, constitute a riot. The Riots Damages Act of 1886 states that, in the event of a riot, the government (or the local police) are liable for the damage caused. This means that insurance companies, businesses and individuals can claim damages from the police. As such, not one offence of rioting was recorded, as the acts of theft, arson and similar are all covered by insurers. However, in recent months the Association of British Insurers has made it clear that it intends to make the maximum possible claims against the police. While this isn t good news for taxpayers, it does lessen the chance that commercial insurance premiums will be inflated by the financial impact of the riots. This is small comfort to those whose businesses and livelihoods were victims of the destruction. 80 year-old Maurice Reeve came out of retirement to rebuild the House of Reeve furniture store, set alight in Croydon. He described losing his family s premises of 145 years as devastating. In the wake of the riots he met with other local business people and, on hearing their experiences, questioned whether he wanted to remain in Croydon at all, though resolved to fight on. While some businesses are finding their feet once again, it is clear that the riots dealt a blow to the economy that the country can ill-afford.
11 Saffron Insurance talking Commercial My Business Expert August will see the launch of Saffron Insurance s new micro site, My Business Expert; a website aimed at offering expert advice to small and medium-sized business in East Anglia. The site will provide information from experts on marketing, risk, health & safety, HR advice and insurance. Expert advice will be presented in a form of a blog, community forum and video case studies. We hope that My Business Expert will become a valuable resource for new and existing business in the local area and further afield. 10
12 Flood-risk homes face hike in premiums As many as 200,000 homes deemed to be at risk of flooding could face high insurance premiums from next year. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has launched a campaign to highlight the scale of flood risk faced by householders across England and Wales. The campaign centres on an agreement between insurers and the government which obliges insurers to provide cover for properties at higher risk of flooding whilst the government continues to improve flood defences. When the agreement (the Statement of Principles ) ends in June 2013, residents in high-risk properties could face unaffordable insurance premiums. The ABI estimates that unfulfilled Government pledges to tackle the flood threat have left thousands of homes with a greater than 1 in 75 chance of flood in any given year.
13 Saffron Insurance talking Personal Insurance The Environment Agency are tasked with the management of flood defences, but has limited funds as austerity measures come into force. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has urged the Environment Agency to involve communities in taking decisions on flood protection, so that best use can be made of the funds available. In the meantime, when the Statement of Principles expires, insurers will evaluate the level and magnitude of flood risk, potentially leaving householders in high-risk areas with substantially higher premiums. When exposed to high premiums, it is sensible to shop around to ascertain whether savings can be made. Not only can Saffron provide this service with no obligation to buy, but our clear understanding of flood risk allows us to work with insurers to lessen the perceived risk of flooding to your property, and in doing so avoiding the highest premiums. When it comes to a complex area such as flood risk, asking the experts is the intelligent thing to do, so if you have any concerns about your property s flood risk and how to mitigate this, please get in touch any time. 12
14 Protecting yourself from floods The risk of flooding and flash flooding is always prevalent in the UK. Being prepared is key; by assessing the flood risks now and in the future to ensure you are prepared in the event of an emergency. Preparing for floods Good sources for flood planning information are the Environment Agency (EA) websites. You ll find help to determine if you are at risk of flooding, formulate a flood plan, prepare for flooding and know what to do if a flood does occur. You can also sign up for free flood warnings. The EA work with local authorities to provide advice and information to the public before and during flood emergencies and can be contacted 24 hours a day via a dedicated Floodline number For coastal and riverside areas with a high risk of flooding, these agencies will be able to tell you whether more localised flood warning information is available via dedicated telephone numbers (e.g. quick dial codes). The symbols and messages used in EA flood warnings have recently been changed to make them easier to understand and to give clearer guidance about what action people need to take. To be kept further informed of both potential severe weather and possible flooding, you may wish to sign up for automatic alerts from the Met Office. Be prepared and take all reasonable precautions possible to minimise disruption and stay safe in the event of a flood.
15 Saffron Insurance talking Claims Minimising the damage While getting adequate home and contents cover is crucial, so is taking steps to minimise the water damage if you live in a high risk flooding area. A few tips: Stock up on sandbags: Always have some sandbags stored which you can use to block doorways to help keep water out and protect the inside of your home. Protect things you can t replace: Items of sentimental value such as photographs and diaries should be packed in waterproof bags and put somewhere safe, ideally upstairs. After all, no amount of insurance money can bring these back. Keep a useful contacts directory handy: List important phone numbers such as your home insurance provider and policy number as well as Floodline ( ) and keep the information to hand. Pack a flood kit: Put together an emergency kit containing personal IDs, any required medication and a change of clothing in case you do need to evacuate your home. Move costly possessions: Shift valuable and electrical goods off the floor and ideally move them upstairs. Protect soft furnishings: If flooding looks likely, take up rugs and put them upstairs or throw curtains over curtain rails. In the event of a flood call our claims team on Don t wait to tell us Delays in the notification of a claim can have significant and sometimes detrimental effects on the final cost of a claim, and limit the opportunity for a full investigation. Throughout the general market, insurers incorporate claims notification wording within their policies, which usually stipulates that claims must be reported in under 30 days of loss, incident date or discovery. This is more rigorous where claims involve injury. In all cases, where a formal claim has been notified, the incident must be reported to insurers immediately. As the insured, there is also a duty of care to disclose any incidents of injury that may or may not lead to a formal claim being submitted. Injuries involving three or more consecutive days absence from work, or those requiring an ambulance or hospital treatment, to name a few, must also be reported immediately. We want to help you as quickly as possible so please contact Saffron Insurance s claims department where a qualified claims handler will be able to guide you through the initial steps. They will report the matter in full to your insurer and provide you with regular updates. Contact us Claims team T: E: Head office T: E: 14
16 Driving to France this Summer? If you re one of the seven million Brits driving to France this summer, don t forget your breathalyser kit. From the 1st July, all drivers and motorcyclists in France will need to carry a breathalyser kit in their cars even if you re just going on a day trip. From November, there ll be an 11 Euro fine if you don t have one. The only exception to this rule is made for bikes under 50cc. Single-use breathalyser kits will satisfy the requirement. They cost between 1 and 2, and will be available at ferry and tunnel terminals for crossings to France. It is intended that people will be able to test themselves to check whether or not they are over the French limit (the legal limit in France is 50mg/100ml of blood, which is 30mg lower than in the UK). As always, the best advice for motorists is not to drink and drive at all.
17 Saffron Insurance talking Personal Insurance Four questions about boiler cover? What is boiler cover? Boiler cover is a type of insurance that will kick in if your gas boiler breaks down. It is designed to avoid expensive repair bills and offer householders 24/7 emergency assistance. Our ARAG product covers: Isn t it covered under my home insurance? Boiler repairs can form part of a home insurance policy but usually as an extra. It s wise to check your policy before buying boiler cover to ensure you don t double up. Breakdown of the main heating system Plumbing and drainage problems Damage to, or failure of your home s security including locks and windows Breakage or failure of your sole toilet unit Loss of domestic power supply Lost keys Vermin infestation What are the pitfalls? Don t be persuaded to buy cover you don t need. In October 2011, one provider was forced to suspend sales following allegations of mis-selling policies for example to council tenants who are not responsible for maintenance. Check how old your boiler is, most policies do not cover boilers over 15 years old. What is the best cover to buy? A home emergency solution is a cost-effective insurance product that provides immediate assistance in the event of a domestic emergency. For further details call or visit your local branch. 16
18 Referral fees under fire
19 Saffron Insurance talking Personal Insurance The first decade of the millennium is in danger of being remembered as the decade of personal injury claims. The nation has learnt, parrot-fashion, that you could be entitled to compensation. There is now a wealth of advertising encouraging us to come forward to discuss our claim with a personal injury lawyer, many of whom promise no-win no-fee guarantees. Over the past decade the cost of personal injury claims has doubled from 7 billion to 14 billion. In one 12-month period alone, 432,000 people made personal injury claims one claim for every 140 Britons. Of these claims, 70% are now whiplash-related; a rise of over 25% since It may be that the UK s compensation culture has conditioned Britons to seek a payout in the event of an accident. However, it has recently emerged that personal injury lawyers may purchase the data of individuals recently involved in an accident from those in the know namely, their insurance providers, garages and claims management firms. Known as referrals, the practice sees personal injury lawyers buying these hot leads from insurers in order to contact the customer and encourage them to make a personal injury claim. Whether seen as a legitimate commission for a potential lead, or a shady bribe, the relationship between personal injury lawyers and insurers has come under fire. Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw has described the practice as a huge racket. Some insurers do offer this service as standard, putting claimants in touch with legal help in the event of personal injury. By checking the small print of your policy, you should be able to ascertain whether legal assistance will be made available to you, and whether you can opt out of this service. Sadly, there have been reports of a few unscrupulous claims-management companies cold calling consumers when no such agreement is in place; a practice described by Jack Straw as akin to ambulance-chasing. The government is now seeking to ban referral fees as a route-to-market for the personal injury lawyers, in an attempt to reduce spurious and over-inflated claims. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is also calling for a ban on referral fees, citing it as an important step in tackling our dysfunctional compensation system. Implementing a ban will bring challenges, such as defining referral fees, and in ensuring that loosely-regulated traders do not take the profit-making method underground. It is hoped that action against aggressive referral-fee-based marketing will be included in the forthcoming Legal Aid Bill. While many personal injury claims are wholly justified, this artificial claims inflation comes at a significant cost to us all. Figures show that for every 1 motor insurers pay out in compensation, an extra 87p is paid out in legal costs. The only way that the motoring insurance industry can recover these costs is by raising premiums. Insurance premiums have gone up 40% across the board in the past year. Conversely, accident figures are falling. If you have any questions about your insurance policy, or believe you have been unlawfully solicited by personal injury lawyers, please do talk to us. 18
20 The Utility Warehouse We are all aware of the growing costs of our utility bills and many would like to see a reduction in these costs. At Saffron we ve swapped our provider to The Utility Warehouse and have made some significant savings. Here are just a few of the benefits: The UK s cheapest Home Phone and Broadband bundle The UK s cheapest Mobile The UK s cheapest standard Gas and Electricity They supply all these services on one monthly bill, which is great for simplicity. Some other Club benefits: Award-winning customer service Cashback on your shopping and petrol UK s cheapest online shopping Refer a friend and get an extra discount every month! Even if you haven t heard of The Utility Warehouse before, you can be completely confident in their services. They are a Which? Recommended Provider and scored five out of five for customer service. For further details call our Saffron Walden office on