Coface's broker-focused strategy enables S-Tech to enhance the service it offers clients and expand its credit insurance business
S-Tech Insurance Services
- Company: Cambridge-based independent broker, S-Tech, provides insurance - including credit insurance – and other financial services, to corporate and individual clients.
- Business challenge: To further develop its credit insurance product range and market the service to potential new clients.
- Solution: Working in partnership with Coface, and benefiting from its broker-focused strategy.
- Result: A positive working relationship with Coface has enabled S-Tech to generate new business, while delivering high standards of service to existing clients.
For over 20 years, Cambridge-based insurance broker, S-Tech has provided general and commercial insurance and other financial services such as mortgages and pensions. The company employs around fifty industry professionals.
Around seven years ago, S-Tech added a credit insurance division under the directorship of Laurence Hill. Since then, the company has steadily grown. Now, in addition to self-generated business, S-Tech handles and places credit insurance enquiries on behalf of many other 'general' insurance brokers. It has an in-house credit insurance claims department focusing purely on prompt payment of valid claims and offers innovative benefits to their customers, such as a unique ‘Credit limit tracker system' and a free report service.
Working with several credit insurance providers and handling enquiries from companies turning over from between £250,000 to £50,000,000 per annum, S-Tech is selective regarding which insurer it may recommend to a particular client. Clients range from the small partnerships to multinationals spanning the range of trade sectors including manufacturing and services. S-Tech arranges insurance for both domestic and export debtors and enjoys a high level of business retention.
The Business Challenge
S-Tech works in close partnership with credit insurance providers delivering the credit insurance policies and service levels their customers expect. According to the company's Risk Management Specialist, Karl Ferré, the key to this is regular and clear communication between customer, broker and insurer.
"It is important we are able to get on with the underwriters and account managers - and to have confidence in them - as well as the product" he said. "Specialist credit insurance brokers are the active support link for the vast majority of credit insured companies throughout the UK. From time to time there are issues to resolve or to negotiate on. It's important we are able to make contact promptly. It remains a challenging market and whilst technology makes us all slicker communicators; face-to-face dealing remains the key to success."
The Coface Solution
Coface has always seen the broker channel as its key route to market for credit insurance and, in 2002, the company announced it was going to actively work with any brokers who wanted to offer credit insurance to their clients. It would offer them help in the form of better communication; support with marketing; training and education; access to new technology; and a broader product range to offer to clients.
This means bundling products differently to encompass related but low risk services such as credit information, credit rating, collections, as well as offering flexible credit insurance policies which respond to specific business needs. In addition to developing new markets, the brokers also benefit from hitherto untapped opportunities to earn commission.
Since it began working with Coface two years ago, S-Tech has placed around 10 policies with the insurer. These have been mainly traditional whole turnover policies - Coface's Open Trader product.
As Ferré points out, he can also offer clients a more flexible and cost-effective approach, thanks to policies such as Coface's Top Trader product which enable clients more control over how many of their customers to insure and to pay only for the cover they need. He said: "The policy structures offered by Coface are flexible and easily understood. They are straightforward. I am always mindful of companies considering buying a credit insurance policy for the first time and Coface keep things simple. Ultimately credit insurance is – or should be – a simple product. "
S-Tech's clients also benefit from technological innovations, such as Cofanet, Coface's online policy management system. "The Cofanet system is easy to use and allows clients to apply for a credit limit online and download relevant forms necessary for submitting a claim, or reporting overdue customers etc. We look forward to new facilities whereby a client can check their claims histories; can more easily draw down lists of active credit limits and are able to report all policy matters online."
Coface and S-Tech have recently been working together to expand the latter's credit insurance book.
"Coface is one of a very few insurers who will visit every new client. This is good service. Indeed, Coface's proactive approach has enabled us to win new business. In one recent instance, whilst courting a new client - other suitors appeared in the shape of competing brokers. At that stage there were 3 interested brokers and around a dozen quotes under consideration so I arranged for our Coface underwriter to attend a meeting with the potential client to cut through the confusion! The M.D appreciated our active style and has subsequently insured through S-Tech – with Coface as insurer."
"S-Tech continues to be a truly independent specialist credit insurance and have clients insured with virtually all reputable insurers in the market. I hope to further develop our business connection with Coface and have found in recent years their attitude to be a positive one."
- Karl Ferré, Risk Management Specialist, S-Tech Insurance Services