We are talking all things motor with Ian Georgeson, Cross Country Insurance Consultants. An exciting topic to explore, as South Africans are very much into their 4X4’s
Tony: For those people that might not know, Cross Country or CCIC, please give us some background.
Ian: We have been around for a while, having launched in 1998, from a shared vision with SA Eagle. We started by launching a product called the All Terrain Insurance Plan, a product designed to cater for the policyholder who had an outdoor interest.
The emphasis was to share a common passion, for both CCIC policyholders and the brokers who appreciated the outdoor pursuits. I think the advantage of the All Terrain project was the ability to design a product for the outdoor enthusiast, enabling us to ensure any number of risks in the outdoor pursuits. The project enabled us to communicate to our customers with whom we shared something in common and to secure a long term relationship, which is very important.
We subsequently set up an association with Renasa 12 years ago, which has really benefited us and enhanced our product range and resulted in growth in our business.
We did hit a couple of milestones over the last 18 years, first implementing the ITC platform in profiling prospective clients and being able to integrate this into our ratings platform. I think we were one of the first companies to serve a 24/7 app for medical emergencies, breakdowns, accident reporting and activation. Also, eight years ago, we started the implementation of a telematics platform, enabling us to utilise driver behaviour algorithms, and cost premiums individually.
Tony: Now the 4X4 is basically a private, individual vehicle, but obviously, there are different risks faced by the drivers as well as the brokers who are insuring them in this environment. Can you give us a breakdown as to how you view these risks?
Ian: As I mentioned, our brokers are really the first contact with the policyholder. Through product orientation and training we assist the broker in understanding the difference in cover between the standard and the 4X4 vehicle. We give an overview of the correct cover, competitive pricing and excess structures and again, value added products, which are important to minimise loss and are not included in the normal cover. Here relationship and great service is king.
It is very important for brokers to carry out a comprehensive needs analysis with their clients. The risks in this market segment are very different to normal motor risks. This does not mean that the policyholder is excluded from the normal motor risks. They still operate a motor vehicle, use public roads and therefore subject themselves to the same level of risk as every vehicle owner. The main risk is the loss and damage to an asset by additional exposure travelling outside RSA territories. Also not having the correct cover in place when using the vehicle off road and in an organised off road event.
Medical assistance and evacuation of the driver and all the passengers, not one or two, all passengers, are other risk prevention factors. The broker should be able to anticipate any risk exposure and offer an unparalleled recovery programme in risk mitigation.
It’s important to note that there’s an entire set of risks that fall wide of the normal. For example, a mechanical failure of a vehicle parked in your garage is a big inconvenience. However, the mechanical failure of a vehicle parked under a tree, outside RSA, is potentially a bigger headache. We have all these things set up for risk mitigation and it is very important that the broker actually utilises this for their clients.
Tony: How does the broker fit into this process? Does he/she need to be knowledgeable about the 4X4 space?
Ian: We have a broker network of about 600 brokers countrywide, and have very close relationships with about 160 or so of them. Generally, these brokers do have specific knowledge of 4X4 insurance. We also have a training portal for the broker to assist in product training, which is very important. Over time, we have built a strong relationships with many associations in, 4X4, Hunting and Classic car sphere. We involve our brokers in these groups to foster new business and gain knowledge for our product development and possible risk exposure.
For us, driver training, eventing and sponsorships are integral for awareness and branding. Again, we involve our brokers in these programmes as they will have access to the club and association members and be able to utilise our products with them. So it’s a huge network and as I said, we have nurtured these relationships over many years.
Tony: What about new brokers that want to play in this space, do they approach you to assist them in getting up to speed?
Ian: In a UMA, we have to work directly with a broker. New brokers come in all the time, and effectively we are able to assist them in terms of zoom meetings or personal visits where we can, we introduce them to the product and do product training via zoom. We obviously have a set of documentation pertaining to the benefits and advantages of the cover, so they are all well versed in terms of what we do.
Tony: Now, in this environment, you’ve got lots of add-on products, looking at all the different things like the trailers and all of the equipment that goes with them.
Ian: Back in 1998, when we launched, there were probably one or two insurers or underwriting brokers who were writing this type of product. This is where we saw the gap in the market. A 4X4 is associated with vehicles accessories, equipment and invariably a trailer or caravan and all the equipment carried in there.
I wouldn’t say we captured most of the market, but there was certainly scope for us to grow our business. And certainly, where there is a 4X4 Association, there’s normally a motor vessel where the guys go fishing, so why don’t we insure the boat, why don’t we insure the trailer and all the equipment on the vessels. Again, our repatriation cover and medical assistance cover is extended o our marine product. So what’s quite nice is that, normally you have passengers on your 4X4 vehicle and you have passengers on your vessel, and if there is an incident we will recover everybody. And that’s really where we are very strong and, as I said, the limits are quite extensive.
We had one situation where one of our clients got tick bite fever in Kilimanjaro, and we had to get them out and we possibly saved his life. That is what it is all about, repatriation and our medical emergency are 24/7.
We also ventured into the classic motor vehicle and motorcycles on an agreed value basis, with the extended utilisation across the board and we pick up the passengers as well. We have a facility called the DirtSure product, which is really for your off-road motorcycles, your dual bikes and Quadbikes and the like. This unique product offers its own damage racing risk cover, which is a real benefit to dirt bike owners Our gold house owners and householders policy, which is an agreed value policy with higher all risk limits.
So, I certainly think we’ve developed an all-round package for your outdoor enthusiast, and the business has grown over the years. We have even developed a product known as Field and Stream for your dedicated Hunter-outdoorsman, specific to the pursuit, again including your repatriation and accident cover. Here we’ve signed up a company who has a reach of 40,000 members
So it’s quite an exciting time for us and we are always on the lookout for new products.