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[ Focus on: Insurance ]

first thing to know is that there are specialists out there who can help. Many larger contractors, for example, buy insurance through an insurance broker, who will shop around the insurers and can also help plot the best path through the decision-making maze. Of course, using a broker does mean that there are commissions and/or fees involved in the cost. So is it worthwhile? The answer really depends on the size of your business and its complexity, explains Brown: ‘A larger business really needs to look at its insurance costs in a more technical way, and that is where a broker can add value. There are quite a few specialist brokers who understand the construction business, and they can often see ways to design special programmes or to manage risks in a way which can help to cut premiums.’ But Brown says that smaller businesses, conversely,

may benefit most from a direct approach, where they can buy a standard package at the lowest cost by shopping around online. For example, ECIC has recently launched an online product through ECA’s insurance services arm, ECIS.

Brown says: ‘The new product, ECA Trade, which is

only available to ECA registered members, offers small businesses with an annual turnover of up to £500,000 the opportunity to buy tradesman insurance cover, including employers’ and public liability and contractors’ all risks insurance, online without broker support. The use of this technology and distribution of the product allows costs to be reduced and therefore we are able to offer the customer a reduced premium. For us in particular, it’s all about giving members an online buying tool that is quick and simple to use.’ But Brown also warns that contractors must take care

to buy the right product if buying direct. And he sees his own role as being about helping to create those ‘right products’. ‘Our particular job is to make products designed with the membership in mind. We have unique knowledge about members’ businesses that other insurers simply don’t have. We talk to members. We understand what their businesses need. With other insurers you have to be sure you are getting a product that meets your requirements.’ So, beyond choosing the right product, what else should

Buying insurance direct

ECA’s Insurance services company, ECIS, has created a website where members can buy direct. Take a look at However, if you are shopping around, it offers the following guidance: n Check the insurer has industry knowledge. If you don’t you may find that your cover has nasty and unexpected gaps in it – or that the claim takes longer to handle because claims staff are not experienced in your industry; and n Ask about claims servicing and how quickly the insurer can promise to process the claim.

Electrical contractors, like any other business, are experts in their own trade

ECA members consider when comparing insurance products? Alastair Torbet, head of sales and marketing for ECIC, believes that contractors need to look at the ‘back end’ of insurance to understand which insurer to choose. ‘Beyond price, it’s really all about what will happen

if and when you do make a claim,’ he says. ‘Most importantly, do they understand your business? Do they speak your language, and will they offer good service during the claim?’ He says that, if the insurer’s claims team has experience in your industry, they are much more likely to be able to help get you back on your feet quickly and to understand your requirements. ‘At ECIC we insist, for example, that our claims teams

have experience in the construction sector. It simply saves time and money, both for us and the client, if both parties understand the nature of the business that is making the claim, and what its immediate priorities will be.’

All about the Electrical Contractors’ Insurance Company Ltd (ECIC)

The Electrical Contractors Insurance Company (known as ECIC) is fully owned by the ECA. It was set up to supply the specialist insurances that ECA members need, and is operated for the benefit of members by the Association. ECIC was founded in 1976, originally just for ECA members – but the

company has since broadened its client base, providing insurance products for contractors right across the UK’s electrical engineering and building services sector. Its customers range in size from small local firms, partnerships and sole traders to national contractors employing hundreds. ECIC is an FSA (Financial Services Authority) authorised insurer, and has an ‘A–‘ financial strength rating awarded by AM Best Co (, which provides members with reassurance about the security of their insurer – extremely valuable in tough times. Managing director Roger

Brown joined ECIC 18 months ago. Having designed and

implemented insurance schemes for many industries – from freight forwarders to building contractors – he has vast experience of how the often complex insurance market works. Working behind Roger, a team of specialists manage both underwriting and claims. Their role is to ensure that members’ claims and queries are handled promptly and by people with expert industry knowledge. ECIC works directly with members as well as through professional brokers. It offers a range of products designed with the membership in mind, including a specialist contractors combined package policy, incorporating Employers’, Public and Product Liability, Professional Indemnity, Contractors All Risk, Accident, Property and Business Interruption cover. ECIC also insures the liability, contractual, plant and personal accident elements of ECA Trade, a new product created by the ECA’s insurance services arm, ECIS, specifically to meet the requirements of smaller ECA contractors. To complement the ECA Trade product, ECIS will also include a scheme to provide Commercial Vehicle insurance to ECA members at a price that reflects the generally low-risk nature of electricians’ vans.

Autumn 2010 ECA Today 59

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