Investing in schemes to provide a better proposition

11 October 2023

After 3 months in the role, Chris Withers, Schemes and Facilities Director, reflects on how the changes in the schemes market have provided Ecclesiastical with new opportunities.

The schemes market has faced disruption in recent months following the impact of the hard market and insurer consolidation. The market conditions have led insurers to review their risk appetite, exit schemes or try to fix performance issues in too short a timeframe.

The insurer mergers create more scale but can also mean competing schemes end up being insured by the same provider. This in turn either neutralises a competitive advantage or at least reduces differentiation. Sometimes the increased exposure to one customer group leads the carrier to choose only one scheme to back leaving the other broker to find new capacity.

We’ve been working in the schemes space for almost 40 years now and we know that brokers are looking for reliable carriers that have an ambition to support them as a specialist in their field and help them grow and develop their scheme. With all these market changes, it is clear from the many brokers I’ve spoken to that they have become disillusioned and feel a little neglected.

One of the elements that attracted me to this role is our opportunity to demonstrate that not all insurers are the same and we have something even better to offer. With our ambitions to double the size of our insurance business so we can give even more to good causes, this is something to get excited about. We are also developing our schemes proposition and investing in technology to enable brokers to add value to their customers and enable them to grow.

Why choose Ecclesiastical for your Scheme?

  • We cover more than brokers might think. We have been working with broker partners on a wide range of schemes – everything from farms to funeral directors, from book dealers to veterinary practices, and from brass bands to micro-pubs, as well as some specialist personal lines, including liability cover for pets, and contents in retirement communities.
  • Our Delegated Authority (DA) is broad. Where we have a DA arrangement, an average 90% of the decision-making sits with the broker as experts in their field.
  • For those brokers who don’t want to take on the underwriting risk or responsibility, we also offer bespoke partnerships. This allows brokers to differentiate their product with the customer, but we do all the heavy lifting in the background.
  • We make it our job to ensure the transfer process is smooth, quick and the broker is involved every step of the way through our collaborative approach. Collaboration is a key factor in all our scheme relationships.
  • Brokers have the support of a specialist team that is dedicated solely to serving the scheme. A dedicated relationship manager and underwriter who knows the scheme inside and out will actively find ways to support and grow your scheme.
  • We’ll work with brokers to create bespoke covers. We don’t rely on an off-the-shelf solution.

Meet Chris Withers

A photo of Chris WithersChris Withers – UK Schemes and Facilities Director

Chris heads up Ecclesiastical’s growing schemes business having held the role of broker distribution director with Ecclesiastical since 2016.

He previously worked as Schemes Manager and Head of Distribution at Covea and before that RSA in a variety of business development and leadership roles.

Chris enjoys all sports and is a keen runner, golfer and fan of Reading FC.