Support the IPT freeze

As a way of combatting a decrease in the money the government takes from fuel duty, there is a real concern in the insurance industry that Phillip Hammond plans to put a rise in Insurance Premium Tax in his next budget.

IPT, which currently stands at 12%, is a tax on premiums paid by the policyholder.

It has already risen in the considerably in the last two years; doubling from 6% to 12%. That, according to BIBA shows an increase larger than that of tobacco and alcohol duties.

Romero Insurance Brokers suggest that any rise in IPT would be grossly unfair and potentially dangerous.

Insurance is vital for any business, no matter the size, and an increase in costs could squeeze some bottom lines to breaking point. Or even more worryingly, some would avoid paying for insurance altogether.

You shouldn’t be penalised for doing the right thing.

There have already been calls from insurer, Ecclesiastical and the Charity Finance Group to make charities exempt from paying the tax. But if it’s unfair for charities to pay IPT, detractors could also argue that it’s unfair for 3rd sector contractors, businesses with low profits and those with high premiums after a series of no-fault claims, to pay.

Romero MD, Simon Mabb, had these words on the matter:

The government have increased the Insurance Premium Tax rate in the last few years from the original 2.5% when first introduced to 12%.  This has been an extra source of revenue for the tax man but this is now affecting customer’s insurance purchasing decisions which can’t be right.  The 12% rate is excessive and on motor business the government is taking more in tax than the broker that is arranging the cover, advising the customer on cover and assisting with claims.  The broker is also having to fund regulation costs from their income as well.  We regularly see customers that need specialist covers, for example, flood cover, that are just priced out of taking this with the additional 12% tax on top.  Likewise a young driver paying £2,000 for their insurance premium is paying a further £240 in Insurance Premium Tax. 

There is talk of the government looking to raise this 12% higher still in the next budget and this is something we all need to be vocal about.  The insurance industry and the end customers alike.  At the end of the day it is wrong to penalise people for doing the responsible thing, which is why we’re calling for an end to rises in Insurance Premium Tax which is a tax on the consumer not a tax on insurers as has been portrayed by the government with previous increases.

If you feel as strongly as we do about freezing IPT, it’s important that you lobby your MP and make your voice heard. This proposed rise is unfair and anti-growth, and must be stopped.

You can follow the #IPTsUnfair hashtag on Twitter for the latest updates.

Directors and Officers Claims Trends: How is D&O changing as we head towards 2020?

At Romero Insurance Brokers, we look at every case individually and assess the requirement of each company for each type of insurance. We make sure that our clients are covered for all eventualities. We know what a large impact even a single claim can have on your business, so making sure you’re financially protected is the first line of defence.

In our latest article, we look at the how D&O claims will change and evolve in the near future. This article features comment on changing regulations, a growing claims culture and increasing costs. If you have any thoughts on anything you read below, we’d love to hear them! Contact us today via the contact information at the top of this page or find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Regulations tighten, but people are still people.

The attitude of a claimant drives the claim, and sometimes the actual merit of the case takes a back seat. No matter how blameless the defendant, determined claimants taking action without legal action can incur thousands in costs and drags cases over months and sometimes years.

Contract disputes will always be a major part of everyday business

In a slightly frustrating continuing trend, D&O claims from contract disputes will probably continue indefinitely. There will always be a supplier or purchaser who isn’t happy with a certain product and service, and no matter how blameless the other party, people don’t like paying if they don’t think they’re getting value for money.

Depending on the insurer, there are different levels of cover in D&O depending on the dispute. It’s vital in this area that you study your policy wording. We work with a large panel of British insurers, all of whom have their own definitions of what would be covered under their D&O policies for contract disputes. Some may cover simple contract disputes, but it’s rare. It’s likely that your circumstances will have to meet a certain number of specified criteria. If you’d like us to help you examine your policy in more detail, or explain the ins and outs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the age of social media and digital footprints, bad news travels fast.

With today’s technology and the immediate and public access customers have to companies, PR and reputational protection is important. We have seen recent examples, such as the multiple profit warnings at Provident Financial in 2017, where thousands of disgruntled customers and employees have taken to social media and other PR channels to vent anger.

If the reputational damage is a result of mistake or breach of duty of a director or officer, the financial implications for the business could be huge.

As more and more people become digitally literate, and the economic and ethical performance of companies is more open to the public, D&O protection of this kind is a growing requirement.

Changes in insolvency rules will increase claims against D&O.

As the number of company and individual insolvencies continues to rise, it’s predicted that claims against D&O insurance will do the same. Changes in the rules regarding insolvencies have led to more focus on the behaviour of directors (who now have to have their previous 3 years conduct examined, not 2) and shadow directors (who were previously hidden from scrutiny). The Insolvency service also now have longer (3 years instead of 2) to bring about action.

HSE fine levels will increase the financial repercussions of health and safety breaches.

Recent regulatory changes now allow the HSE to hand out larger fines to companies that are found to have been in constant or serious breach of health and safety law. Whether through causation or correlation, the number of fines over £1m in 2017 was more than the previous 20 years put together.

HSE investigations and prosecutions were already a frequent source of D&O claims. We’re possibly set for a cat and mouse game of the HSE chasing more prosecutions because of bigger fines, and the companies themselves taking health and safety and the avoidance of such prosecutions more seriously.

Breach of fiduciary duties claims will grow, but still create big grey areas.

The number of claims by investors against directors failing to fulfil their fiduciary duties has risen. Many fiduciary duties are vague and can incorporate many aspects, so whether or not an individual has fulfilled or is in breach of their duties, is often debatable. Prime and common examples of these type of claims include dual interest (where having interests in another company hinders performance for the business in question), upholding the positive image of a brand or irresponsible pay outs for former employees or contractors.

It’s become more expensive to fight D&O claims

Alongside a rise in claims culture, the cost of defence and barristers is increasing. As the waters of D&O claims become murkier and murkier, claims that would once have been settled out of court via legal advisers are no requiring the support of barristers and other expensive defence personnel. And with more information and data available to claimants and defendants than ever before, more hours are required to examine all evidence.

In this article, we looked at the latest report by AIG into the changing landscape of D&O insurance. For the full article from AIG, click here.

What will change with the new Manslaughter Definitive Guidelines?

On 31st July, the Sentencing Council published new guidance on sentencing for manslaughter cases. The new guidelines will be retrospective, meaning they will apply to any gross negligence manslaughter cases not concluded before the 1st November deadline.

So why is this important to you?

Gross Negligence Manslaughter, where the breach of duty of care by an individual causes or significantly contributes to a death, is the most serious offence that an individual can commit for a health and safety breach. The new sentence guidelines show just how serious the consequences can be. It’s important that your business has the tools in place to avoid such action being taken against you, or your employees.

The guidelines propose four levels of culpability ranging from ‘low’ to ‘very high’, but all of which will result in some form of gaol time. For the lowest level of culpability, culprits can expect a two year sentence, but this moves up to 8 or 12 years very quickly if a judge determines that new flashpoint features such as cost saving and disregarding very high risk of death, are met.

How is culpability decided?

As previously stated, there are a number of flashpoints, or contributing factors that determine an individual’s culpability. For the most part, these are determined based on the level of the negligence, such as if more than one life was put at risk, or that warning were not adhered to.

A high culpability would meet a number of those factors and would result in a gaol term of over ten years. The most common factors are cost saving as a motivation for the breach, and blatant disregard for risk of death. Typically, if either of those two factors aren’t met, the culpability would be considered medium at most. This just shows how important it is that thorough checks are committed and that all risk warnings are actioned.

It is difficult to foresee what a judge would regard as ‘blatant’ disregard, so our advice would be that any disregard could fall into that category.

In cases where the culpability is considered ‘very high’, both cost saving and high disregard for death will be found. Sentences for this level of culpability range from 10 to 18 years.

Very high culpability cases range in type and scenario. Consider the case of Indian takeaway shop owner, Mohammed Zaman of Huntington, who was found guilty of the manslaughter of customer, Paul Wilson, after he had replaced almond powder with ground nut mix as part of a cost cutting exercise. Zaman showed a blatant disregard for the safety of his customers by showing a ‘no-nuts’ message in his menu. He also triggered the cost saving factor.

Another very recent and high profile case is that of Grenfell Tower. The investigation is still ongoing, but it is very possible gross negligence manslaughter sentences will be considered, given the repeated ignored warnings that the tower wasn’t safe, and the cost saving on the cladding.

Risk Management

We asked our Risk Director, Jane Dronsfield, what impact she thought the new guidelines would have:

“Following implementation of the Guidelines, we expect a rise in the sentences handed down in manslaughter cases, with lengthier, custodial sentences and fewer suspended sentences. The old guidelines allowed for a much higher degree of judiciary discretion, whereas the new guidelines seek to create a framework taking into account the culpability of the offender. Culpability categories are defined with reference to a number of factors set out within the Guidelines. Whilst a number of the factors would not necessarily be relevant in the context of workplace deaths, there are many factors that are common within many of the cases we see, which could potentially push offenders up through the category ranges. One example would be where the offender showed a blatant disregard for a very high risk of death resulting from negligent conduct and the negligent conduct was motivated by financial gain (or avoidance of cost).

We have seen a sharp increase in the number of individuals being prosecuted for health and safety related offences.

Gross Negligence Manslaughter is not just an offence that can be directed towards senior management in a business following a workplace death; any person can be implicated.”

If you’d like to speak to Jane, or any of our fantastic risk management department about how you can stay on top of your risk management, use the contact form on the top of this page. Remember, in gross negligence cases, inaction is a crime.

Contractors Professional Indemnity- when to notify your broker and insurer of a potential issue?

In the latest of our series of insurance opinion articles by our Claims Director, Jody Thirkell, he discusses when you should notify your broker and insurer of a potential issue.

As a specialist in contractors’ insurance we are well aware that things often go wrong on construction projects. But when should you notify your Broker and Insurer that you have a problem?

Your professional indemnity insurance will likely be arranged on a claims made basis. This means the insurer on cover at the time the claim is made is the insurer who deals with the claim, not the one on cover when the problem first arose. Your policy will also likely contain a condition that requires you to notify ‘any circumstance that may give rise to a claim’ and this is where it can get tricky!

What exactly is a ‘circumstance’ in this context? Your insurer is unlikely to want to be bombarded with notifications for every snagging issue you encounter on site but on the flip side would certainly want to know from the outset if there is a fundamental flaw with the design of the building, or part of it. However it is what lies in between these extremes that often causes a problem.

If you are aware of an issue and choose not to disclose it and that issue manifests itself in a claim in the future, your insurer could well have the right to decline the claim for non-disclosure, particularly if the policy has gone through a renewal or you have changed insurer.

What, then, is the solution? At Romero we will speak to the insurer when cover is being placed and ensure that we are very clear on what the underwriters would expect to be notified and what they wouldn’t.  We then convey this to our client in clear terms. If all parties are aware of what is expected and everyone complies, it becomes much less likely that a claim will run into difficulties when they do arise.

As always, communication is the key!

If you’d like to speak to Jody about anything you’ve read in this, or any other of his articles, send us a message and we’ll put you in touch! You can do so via our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts!

The top ten worst areas in Britain for car theft

Does it ever seem like stories about car theft in your local area are an everyday occurrence? If that’s true for you, maybe you live in one of Britain’s car crime hot zones.

Recent research by MoneySuperMarket has revealed the 10 areas with the most car theft, and the 10 with the least. Surprisingly, major urban hubs such as Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow are missing from the list.  You can see the full data below.

It’s interesting to note that the midlands remains relatively quiet across both lists. The worst areas and the best areas tend to be grouped, with the North West and London the two crime hotspots, and the south west, north Scotland and the channel islands remaining fairly car theft free.

Romero Private Client insurance can help protect your most prized possessions wherever you are in the world. If you’d like to talk to us about the tailored cover we can deliver, call us today on 0113 281 8110.

*Please note, these diagrams initially came from a PDF supplied by Robertson and Co.

The Insurance Act – 2 years on

It’s been 2 years since the Insurance Act came into force. In our latest blog, our Claims Director, Jody Thirkell, talks about whether he felt the act had actually produced any tangible changes.

Before the act was introduced, I told people there was no cause for early panicking. It had taken over 100 years of legal precedent to work out what the duty of disclosure under the Marine Insure Act 1906 actually meant, so nothing drastic was going to change overnight.

In reality, it seems like I’ve been proven correct.

We’re still finding out as much as we can about our clients and their risks and presenting that information to insurers as normal. Insurers are still writing business on the same information they always have.

The insurance world keeps on turning.

That may seem glib, and it’s still crucial that a Broker gets to know their clients and their risks to ensure a fair presentation of risk to insurers. But the main changes we’ve seen so far have been very positive.

Insurers can no longer avoid paying claims for breaches of warranty that are not relevant to the claim.

Before the Insurance Act, an insurer could avoid a fire claim for a breach of a burglar alarm warranty. This always seemed perverse and the Act has restricted insurers’ remedies for breaches of policy conditions in a positive way for policy holders.

A further positive is that if the insurer alleges that there has been an innocent non-disclosure of a material fact, they also have to prove that the underwriter had been induced to write the risk due to the lack of fair presentation. This may be simple to prove in personal lines insurance where there is clear underwriting criteria available, but not so easy when looking at complex commercial risks.

This is where your Broker comes in and Romero’s have had great success in using cogent arguments based on the Insurance Act to achieve excellent results on claims for our clients. Are you confident that your Broker has the requisite claims expertise to do likewise should you find yourself in a difficult situation following a loss?

If you’d like to pick Jody’s brains a little more on the impact of the Insurance Act, you can find him on LinkedIn. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out how Romero can save you money and make sure you have the complete tailored policy, call us today on 0113 281 8110.

Unrated Insurers: Why quotes that seem too good to be true, just might be

The insurance market is built on stability and trust. The trust that you will do all you can to prevent accident and injury at your business, and the stability that the insurer will provide by paying out on claims.

That’s why name and reputation have always been big factors in deciding which insurer to place your business with. It’s also why so many people use insurance brokers to get the best insurance packages; they’re trusting the broker to use their knowledge of the industry to choose the most trustworthy and financially stable insurer.

Getting your cover through the wrong insurer can be devastating. If the insurer can’t or won’t pay out when you have a legitimate claim, it could mean the end for your business.

How do you know if an insurer is financially stable?

The very best way to know if an insurer is financially stable, is to use a recognised, experienced and respected insurance broker. After all, they know the industry like the back of their hand.

There are a number of insurance industry awards which reward companies for factors ranging from their customer service, claims handling, retention etc. But as good as those are for finding top performers, they don’t give you the underlying confidence that your business is in safe hands.

For that, you need evidence of an insurer’s financial stability.

How do you find out if an insurer is rated?

In the insurance industry, financial stability is graded AA to D, where AA is extremely secure and D is very weak. The gradings are based on an insurer’s ability to repay creditors or pay claims, so in essence, a AA rating suggests that the insurer has large cash reserves or a fantastic credit rating.

There are a number of insurance rating organisations, including A.M Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, but their ratings are largely the same.

You can find these ratings by visiting the websites of the companies listed above.

What is an unrated insurer?

An unrated insurer is a company that hasn’t been given a rating by the rating organisations. This can happen for a number of reasons, but primarily it’s because they either; a) have requested not to be ranked or b) can’t be ranked because of restrictions in the country in which they’re based.

Both of these reasons should ring alarm bells with any company looking for insurance. Choosing not to be rated suggests they have something to hide, and not being rated because of location could suggest they’re based in an unstable economy.

If an insurer is unrated, it doesn’t necessarily make them bad, it just means that their stability can’t be proven.

Why would anyone place business with an unrated insurer?

Although it may seem like a risky move, many businesses do intentionally buy their insurance policies from unrated insurers. Primarily, this is because they’re usually cheaper than rated insurers (they have to be, they wouldn’t be able to compete if they weren’t as their cover isn’t usually as comprehensive). But they also tend to offer cover for businesses who couldn’t get cover elsewhere, much like a payday lender lending to people with a poor credit rating.

Some businesses, especially those who have never had to make a claim, see insurance as an irritation – money they pay out for nothing in return. For that reason alone, a much cheaper policy is far more attractive to them.

If it’s cheaper, what’s the harm?

If your business never has to make a single claim, unrated insurers and their cheap prices may look ideal. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work like that. Accidents, by their very nature, can’t be completely eradicated and so all businesses may have to make a claim at some point.

If your insurer can’t pay out on that claim, the result can be catastrophic.

There have been a number of examples in recent times of unrated insurers collapsing and leaving their customers in extremely difficult circumstances.

In 2014, the European Risk Insurance Company (ERIC) suddenly announced to brokers that they could no longer comply with regulations relating to minimum solvency requirements. In 2016, unrated Gable collapsed, leaving policyholders down £161m in unpaid claims. Two years later, unrated Alpha also collapsed. That left 10,700 taxi drivers without insurance and thousands of new-build homeowners without critical structural defects cover.

Cheap policies with unrated insurers may seem like a good idea, until you’re left to pick up their tab after a claim.

How do I know that an insurance broker won’t place my business with an unrated insurer?

Quite simply, it depends which insurance broker you choose. Admittedly, there will be some smaller and lesser known brokers who will look to place your business with unrated insurers to keep costs down. But for experienced brokers with reputations to maintain, it wouldn’t be a risk worth taking. Money isn’t made by saving a few quid on a certain policy. It’s earned over years of offering a great, trustworthy service to customers.

We show every customer exactly who they’re insured with, so they can verify the rating themselves. And we only ever insure with unrated insurers if the customer asks for it (although we would try to convince them to change their mind).

If you’d like more information on how the rating system works, or how we assess whether an insurer is trustworthy, you can call us today for a no obligation chat. Just click on the ‘contact us’ button of this website and fill out the form.

Would a broker comparison tool really work?

It may not be insurance news, but the FCA recently recommended that all mortgage brokers should be placed on a comparison site to allow house buyers to compare and contrast.

We’re not going to get drawn into that debate, but it did get us thinking. Would a comparison tool work for comparing insurance brokers.

We decided it wouldn’t, for the following reasons:

1 Price isn’t everything

Comparison sites work because they allow you to compare like for like. The only difference between the options is price and added benefits.

This wouldn’t work for insurance brokers because you’re not just comparing tangible differences like cost. You also have to take into account the broker’s experience, their commitment, their personalities etc. What might be an added benefit for some (e.g regular communication) could be a negative for others.

2 You couldn’t put all the relevant information into the filters

When you compare car insurance, you tell the comparison site the make and model of your car, any accidents you’ve had and what level of excess you’re willing to pay.

You couldn’t do that with insurance for your business. A good insurance broker won’t just ask you about the size and shape of your business. They’ll want to understand the industry you’re in, future changes you’d like to make, what risk management procedures you’ve gone through historically. Image typing all that into a comparison site!

3 Somethings, you just can’t compare

Take Romero for instance (and this isn’t intended as a sales message). We’re proud of our award winning claims department and the dedication of everyone who works in it.

How could a comparison site compare dedication? Or determination? Or experience?

4 You need to meet your broker face to face

Comparison sites usually work on a click, quote and purchase model. Some may require you to send in some documents to confirm the information you’ve given, but it very rarely goes further than that.

But we’d advise you to meet any prospective broker face to face. Getting the right insurance could be the difference between your business thriving or failing. How can you trust someone with your business if you’ve never met them?

5 Aggregators work in black and white

This is a bit of a long winded point, but stick with us because it is relevant.

Comparison sites are aggregators and they work on percentages from a number of different questions and formulas. Remember, we said this was long winded.

In simplistic terms, the person searching for insurance has to answer questions in a very exact way to see an insurer in the comparison results.

For instance, an insurance broker might tell the comparison site that it will only work with businesses that keep their cash in a safe because that’s the best way of preventing theft. However, your business might not use a safe because you’re next door to a bank and you deposit any takings as soon as you have them. The insurance broker would most likely still work with you because you care about keeping money safe, but they wouldn’t appear in your comparison results because you said you don’t use a safe.

 

If you’d like any more information on what you should look for in a quality insurance broker, give our friendly team a call on 0113 281 8110.

Romero Sponsors 2018 VW Cup Championship driver

We’ve always been proud to sponsor some of this country’s best young talent in a number of sporting events, and this year is no different.

In 2018, we’ve given our support to VW Cup Championship driver, Ethan Hammerton. You can see the Romero logo displayed on both sides of his car.

There’s only eight rounds left in this year’s race calendar, and Ethan currently sites in 14th place in the championship table.

The championship supports the British GT Championship and the UK TCR Championship. The remaining eight races will take place at:

  • Round 9 and 10 Spa Francorchamps 21st – 22nd July
  • Round 11 and 12 Oulton Park 4th Aug – 5th Aug
  • Round 13 and 14 Croft 8th – 9th September
  • Round 15 and 16 Donnington 22nd – 23rd September

Tickets can be purchased from the track websites.

Our feet are getting a bit wet now! Walk the World challenge update

Our walk around the world continues, but wading through the Indian Ocean is getting quite tricky! Luckily, there are less sharks than we thought there’d be.

There’s been some really top effort from all the staff taking part. It’s not about winning or losing, but credit must be given to the five who top our leader board so far. They are:

Mark Seels – 2,444,945

Gaynor Elliott – 1,664,725

Dan Learmonth – 1,476,949

Emma stokes – 1,457,329

Toni Midgley – 1,427,552

Mark is currently way ahead, walking about 14,000 steps every day. But in a few weeks’ time, a few members of the team are walking the three peaks; a chance to get that mileage up!

We’ve still got a long way to go, and like the saying goes, ‘walking the first half of the world is a doddle, the second half is the tricky bit’, but the health benefits from this part of the wellbeing challenge will make it all worthwhile in the end.

The deadline to walk the remaining 36,490,862 steps is the 31st August. Which means we need to walk a mere 570,169 steps per day.

Dress down for charity day

In other company news, we wanted to give a little bit of an update on the success of our ‘dress down for charity’ days. Once a month, on as Friday, we ignore the usual office-smart dress code and instead, turn up in our civvies. The cost of comfort is £1 each, and each month the money raised goes to a different charity.

The day has always been a success and in the last three months, we’ve raised £525.85! Our chosen charities were:

March – British Heart Foundation

April – West Yorkshire Dogs Trust

May – OPAL

If you’ve taken inspiration from any of the above and would like to know how to do something similar at your company, send us a message today!