Any colour as long as it’s black

Ask brokers or insurers what SMEs want and they’ll generally tell you it’s value for money, great service and the swift processing of claims – all things they pride themselves on already. But ask the SMEs themselves and, while they do want all those things (who doesn’t?), they also have other requirements the industry either doesn’t seem to have picked up on, or for which it hasn’t found an easily marketable answer. Can big business ever really sell the services SMEs want? I investigated insurers’ attempts to produce standard policies that satisfy everyone.

Stalking for dummies

I’ve turned into a bit of an internet stalker lately, ever since researching this “where are they now?” piece for Insurance Times. It’s extraordinary what even a half-hearted Google search can throw up about the most ordinary people. So, for this Inside Housing careers feature, I was fascinated to discover how recruiters use the internet to check up on potential employees, and how people with a less-than-professional online presence can wipe it squeaky clean. It seemed to hit a nerve in the housing sector anyway – the story was one of the most read articles on the website for weeks afterwards.

“I’ve seen 45 minutes of curling since I got here”

Even the most obsessive-compulsive bridezilla would be out of her depth in the world of events insurance. Brokers who specialise in major events start earlier, plan more thoroughly, produce more paperwork, and obtain more detailed weather forecasts. And no event is more thoroughly insured than the Olympics – which will have been a relief to the organisers of the Vancouver Winter Games when they ran out of snow. I spoke to the broker who was running the behind-the-scenes operation to find out what happened

Why do we put up with this?

If ranting about public transport were a sport, I would be at least semi-professional. So I was overjoyed when Building asked me to contribute to its public spending campaign with a rather polemical article on how rubbish Britain’s railways are and why we can’t afford to let them get any worse. Did you know Wales is the only country in the EU to have no electrified track apart from Albania?