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Member of the Month: Kyle Lomas, HB Underwriting

HB Underwriting was founded in 2014, joining the Network when operating solely as a brokerage. After seeing a need for a specialist rural Management Liability policy, the HB Underwriting team developed their flagship product, Rural Protect, and the business has now evolved into an MGA, all while retaining their membership.

Kyle Lomas, Managing Director, joined the company in 2019 to drive forward their bespoke offering. We recently caught with Kyle to find out more about Rural Protect and how HB Underwriting has benefited from being part of Broker Network.

Tell us about Rural Protect. How can it help Members and their clients?

Our average claims cost in 2020 was £10,500 – this would have been a cost that many farming businesses would have had to finance themselves had it not been for Rural Protect. Add this cost to the time and worry of dealing with litigious matters, and you’ve got a product that every rural business should purchase. Or at least every broker should be making their customer aware of its existence.

Rural Protect is an exclusive product with AXA Insurance, covering the Directors & Officers and Company Legal Liability of rural businesses. The cover is invaluable and goes far beyond a commercial Legal Expenses policy. There are a variety of attributes to the cover available, which are all aimed at protecting the policyholder and their business, including their employees.

Unlike most D&O policies, sole traders and partnerships can be covered and there is no ‘prospect of success’ clause on defence claims. It is underpinned by the expert legal assistance, provided by rradar – a specialist litigation and commercial law firm that offers professional legal representation, regulatory and risk management advice, and proactive advisory services. The policy has legal privilege as standard, enabling the client to have complete confidentiality.

Securing exclusivity with AXA on Rural Protect also enables us to focus our energy on this distinct market segment, reinforcing our commitment to the sector and allowing us to continue engineering a product which many mainstream commercial offerings do not have the granularity to achieve. It truly is a niche product.

What made you want to join Broker Network?

Being a Premier Member allows us to focus on our core activity of distribution, knowing that key aspects of our business have oversight by Broker Network. Whether it involves finance, marketing, or compliance, we have access to industry knowledge that complements our business.

In the early days of creating Rural Protect, to more latterly in keeping it fresh and relevant, the Broker Network team work alongside us to add real value to our proposition. The look and feel that was created for the brand were developed in conjunction with the Network, which makes us stand out in the market.

How do you feel your business has benefited from being part of the Network?

We are fairly unique within the Network, as our membership was founded from our earlier broking background, with the MGA being a by-product of that. This means we don’t use the Network in the manner that a traditional broker would.

That said, their core services are particularly relevant to our market position and apply equally. We call on the Marketing Consultancy and Compliance teams frequently and have built up a great relationship; they understand us, and we know them. This assists us in being agile, which enables us to respond to product changes and opportunities quickly.

Do you feel the Network has supported you during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Broker Network has been invaluable in keeping us abreast of industry guidelines and best practice during the pandemic, as well as updating our website quickly to keep our customers notified of important information. They also played an integral role in assisting us with binder placements when markets slowed in the product development arena due to challenges in capacity appetite and new business development.

What Member Services at Broker Network do you feel have been valuable for your business?

We utilise all components offered across the Network’s Member Services, some of which are key elements of the day-to-day running of HB Underwriting, whereas others will be engaged on a consultancy basis. They are there to support and enhance our business, allowing us to focus on delivering to our customers.

We will often attend product or market-specific training provided by Broker Network. This allows us to keep up to date with changes in our sector. They are always very informative and either reinforce the message of what we are doing if they already exist in our product set or challenge us to up our game to further improve the customer outcomes of Rural Protect.

Do you have any growth plans for 2021 and beyond? Do you feel Broker Network can help you achieve that?

We have some great growth plans and in different sectors of the market. Our core product remains Rural Protect and continuing to adapt it to keep it fit for purpose with longevity. We’ve recently added Rural Protect elements to our stable of products and April sees the inclusion of Family Legal Expenses for our leading product. Both product enhancements were delivered in response to customer feedback.

Broker Network will be an integral part of the new products that we bring to market. Whether it is involvement with TOBAs, brand creation, or staying on the right side of the compliance law, they’ll be on our shoulder helping nurture and create new and individual niche products.

What would you say to a broker about joining Broker Network?

There are many facets to the Network. They are a partner that can adapt to meet the requirements of your business, rather than fit into the model theirs.

HB Underwriting is not a brokerage and our membership has demonstrated that the Network is able to mould itself into what you need it to be, things don’t have to remain static. This agility enables us to grow and doesn’t restrict our thinking or capability. They are a serious contender if you are contemplating joining a Network.

If you’re a Member and would like to be featured in our Member of the Month series, please speak to your dedicated BDM. If you’re not currently part of Broker Network and would like to find out more about joining, please get in touch with a member of our team.

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