Dan Maloney (pictured above) MD of Champion Insurance Group and John Jones (pictured below) MD of its specialist division Champion Professional Risks have seen a resulting shift in market conversations which have evolved to increasingly take up an ‘advice over price’ slant. It’s difficult to be all things to all people, Maloney said, but embracing that brings opportunities for brokers to form strong inter-industry partnerships – and to utilise all the expertise available to supply services they might previously have felt uncomfortable offering.
When it launched in April 2020, Champion Professional Risks was founded on that proposition, offering both a retail and wholesale solution to the financial lines and PI market. Jones noted that being a specialist means being driven by the ambition to provide the best solution possible rather than the cheapest, a particularly critical consideration when dealing with such specialist risks.
Since its inception, the brokerage has developed a strong network of quality brokers as part of the Willis Towers Watson Networks, he said, and currently partners with some 30 brokers who regularly refer business to the firm. Jones and his team look to support brokers struggling to place professional indemnity insurance in the market in making those placements but also in guiding them through the presentation process to ensure they approach the market in the right way.
“That means making sure the presentations are correct before they go to market because a lot of insurers have been swamped by inquiries that they can’t read or work out,” he said. “What we’re doing is effectively just helping them along that process… We arrange a Teams call or online call with the client and broker and then go about understanding the risks and getting a better feel for what they do. Then we look through the proposal form and drill down into the question sets to get the right information that we need to get it out to market.”
Essentially, Maloney said, Champion Professional Risks acts as a broker’s in-house PI team to establish tripartite communication channels that make the process easier for brokers and their clients alike.
“What we’ve found traditionally is the Lloyd’s brokers aren’t really interested unless its big-ticket business,” Jones said. “But we’re here at the coalface because of our retail background. From that retail broking point of view, I generally understand what clients are looking for and I can relay that on from that particular point of view to the broker, who can then [utilise my experience] to get the right information from their clients.”
Maloney highlighted that an integral part of the business’s offering is that the team offer support not just before a broker goes out to market but also afterwards. Its approach to supporting brokers is to empower them to have every kind of conversation with a client, including the sharing of bad news when that’s applicable.
The ethos of Champion Insurance Group as a whole is to move away from the idea of a “postbox” approach to wholesale broking, he said.
“Off the back of that success, we recognised the real demand for specialist service services for insurance brokers, in areas where they might not traditionally be particularly comfortable,” he said. “So, on December 21, we launched another specialist insurance business called Champion Health & Benefits and brought in a specialist [director, Ed Barnes] who has worked in that area for the last eight or nine years.
“He’s coming in as a director to run that side of the business and his remit is to grow the book for private medical insurance, group life assurance (death in service), group income protection and other employee-related benefits… It’s back to that idea of focusing on [areas] where we have real expertise and making that offering available to direct clients but also to our sub-broker panel.”
It has been a busy start to 2022 with the rollout of this new proposition and the unveiling of a new office based in Manchester city centre. Champion Insurance Group will have been trading for 12 years come May, Maloney said, but its growth trajectory is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact, the last five years have been a time of great acceleration for the group.
Between new business divisions, great new hires, and the growth it is seeing in contacts, prospects and its new business pipeline, the future looks bright for the business. Its new office offers the right environment to continue to encourage that growth, Maloney said – and to continue to evolve Champion’s niche proposition of providing support to brokers who are looking to place risks that would once have seemed a world removed from their comfort zone.