It has always been a rare occurrence for brokers to stick rigidly to their day job. Whether it’s the work itself and the flexibility and adaptability it demands, or the kind of accommodating personality that regularly ‘falls into’ broking, we at Broker Network have been hearing stories of how our Members have gone the extra mile for their clients for over 30 years.
But the Coronavirus pandemic has brought out this can-do attitude and tenacity in ways even we have never seen before. Throughout the crisis we have heard countless stories of local heroism and community spirit that encapsulate exactly what being a broker is all about, and it’s time we took a moment to celebrate just how multifaceted brokers can be.
The community supporter
Brokers sit at the very heart of their community and will naturally do all they can to help their clients, who they also count as friends, to survive; but many are going beyond their clients to deliver support where it’s needed most.
Take Acres Insurance as an example: when their agricultural events were cancelled due to the pandemic, they decided to provide the meals they had already prepared and frozen for their events to the staff at Kettering General Hospital.
In fact, the team used the opportunity of working from home to cook further, and ended up donating 150 microwavable meals, all lovingly packaged with recyclable and compostable materials.
The charity fundraiser
The charitable efforts haven’t stopped there: Suzanne Davies from The Insurance Centre used children’s duvet covers to create sets of scrubs for her local hospital; while Ben Amos from Caleb Roberts ran 100 miles in May to fundraise for Mind – shining an increasingly vital spotlight on mental health and raising over £500 in the process.
The listening ear
Our Members have made the world of difference just by being there. A post from Blue Rock Insurance Brokers put it brilliantly at the beginning of the pandemic when every broker’s phone line was ringing off the hook:
“Some customers have been in touch recently and have apologised for troubling us. We know many financial services businesses are telling people not to contact them unless it’s an emergency as they’re very busy. We’re busy too, but we’ll never be so busy that we can’t speak to our customers… If we can help on the insurance side or in any other way, we’re here for you.”
The all-round protector
And help “in any other way” brokers have – considerably so. As a network we are led very much by our Members’ needs; and when they have asked for help during the pandemic, as always, it has been on behalf of their clients.
In direct response to Member feedback, we produced a series of packs for our Members to share with their customers. At the start of lockdown this included resources on working from home effectively, updates on insurance sectors and details of government schemes. Moving through the crisis as the threats metamorphosised and criminals adapted to our new remote world, we looked at Cyber security; then unoccupied property, business interruption support, and eventually a ‘returning to work safely’ pack. Each and every one of these resources was requested by Members to help their clients remain protected.
As Martin Claydon from James & Lindsay comments: “Cyber risks have increased as a result of people working remotely, and the Cyber Pack allows us to provide that continuity of care for our customers by highlighting issues to them. If we sell cyber policies off the back of it and help our clients to stay protected, then that is a positive.
“We’ve not had an issues HR or Compliance issues recently, but we know that if we do, we know we can call someone at the drop of a hat, and they will be there to help. That’s what being part of a network is all about.”
Businesses have naturally had to adapt during the pandemic, with restaurants becoming takeaways overnight and commercial wholesalers supplying to the general public for the first time. When these businesses have switched gears their risks and exposures have changed too, and many have relied on their trusted broker to offer guidance and protection.
A great example of a local business working closely with their broker to adapt quickly at the start of the pandemic came from our Member, Park Commercial. Their client Dinorwig Distillery, creators of Blue Slate Gin, started making hand sanitiser to supply their local hospital. Broker Network’s MGA, BNU, assisted with the change of use in their policy on Park Commercial’s behalf.
Never has a moment of light-hearted fun been more gratefully received than during lockdown, so when our Member, Premier Insurance Centre, hosted a ‘Weakest Link’ fundraising night their dedicated BDM James McCarthy was there in a shot.
Featuring names from across the industry, the virtual event brought smiles to many faces and raised over £900 for the brokerage’s local hospice in the process.
It is this creative thinking and community mindedness that really sums up a broker’s role, and how crucial they are to their community: especially in a crisis.