Everyone’s jumping on the sustainability bandwagon these days – and insurers are no exception. In June, I wrote for Insurance Times’ Property Focus on their unlikely forays into Energy Performance Certificates for buildings, as well as the Teflon-resilience of the super-rich in the recession, and the cast of thousands working behind the scenes to settle a big fire claim.
Last time I wrote about the SME market for Insurance Times, small businesses were expected to be the biggest losers in the recession. When I revisited the issue in May, it turned out things weren’t so bad – though that could be simply because it’s so very big. In particular, the big three brokers are desperate to build their presence in a market that represents £1440bn a year and 99.9% of private companies, and are trying to use the UK’s many small brokers to help them. It’s not going that well – the likes of Aon, Marsh and Willis appear to have as much trouble getting in touch with the broking minnows as they do with their lucrative customer base.
I had a busy few weeks in April, writing four articles for Insurance Times’ supplement for the British Insurance Brokers Association conference. I interviewed a long-standing broker about the days of private fire-fighting services, insuring Boots the Chemist against zeppelin damage and staying in business for 130 years, got credit-crunch survival tips from firms who never miss an opportunity to find new business, made the missing link between loss adjustors and brokers, and got to grips with the latest complex EU legislation on pollution.
Loss adjustors may not be everyone’s idea of the fourth emergency service, but when a disaster happens, they’re one of the first groups on the scene to assess the damage. I visited the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjustors for a insider’s view of the worst-case scenario. I suppose it’s comforting to know that there are people slaving away on contingency plans to prepare us for all eventualities. What’s less comforting is that they always refer to “when” and not “if”.
With bankers and their bonuses dominating the headlines, I reported on payouts and pay freezes in a less lucrative branch of financial services, for this Insurance Times news analysis.
The lack of trade credit insurance is one of the biggest issues affecting Building’s readers across the construction industry. I spoke to the firms struggling to survive, the brokers trying to help them and the insurers they claim have deserted them in their hour of need. Firms who’ve had their cover stripped accuse the insurers of profiteering during the boom, but delving into the finances and ownership of these companies, I found a more complicated picture…
People blame all sorts of things on their genetic make-up these days, but how much can DNA really tell us? And does its potential outweigh the ethical problems with discriminating on the basis of someone’s genes? Insurers have already agreed not to use genetics test results until at least 2011, but I found out that a dystopian future of DNA-typecasting was probably a lot further away than we might have been led to think…