Hiscox reveals HNW history

Robert Hiscox

Robert Hiscox, founder of Hiscox, discusses the history of the insurer and the HNW market ahead of the HNW Forum later this month.

Robert Hiscox is the keynote speaker at the Insurance Age High Net Worth Forum on 21 October.

Ahead of the London event he spoke in detail with commissioning editor Siân Barton about how Hiscox was set up and shared his views on the market at the moment.

What was the HNW market like when Hiscox was originally set up?

I started out because I loved art and paintings. There was no distinction between HNW - it was done at a standard Lloyd's rate. They would get excited about postal codes and ratings.

I thought that was ridiculous because it depended on the house. I saw an opportunity and when I started no-one wanted to cover a policy over £500,000, but I thought 'the bigger the better'.

I used to say while I was at Lloyd's "bring me your rich".

How has the market changed since then?

It took a long time to educate people about high net worth and the 'bespoke tailoring'. We worked to translate the Lloyd's wordings, which were incomprehensible, into plain English and that's the foundation of HNW policies now.

It's more competitive now and you do find people enter the market with no experience of HNW. It's the curse of the insurance business - the naïve competitor.

How can HNW providers make themselves stand out?

The secret has to be service. I am lucky enough to move in HNW circles so I know the market. What people want now, more than anything, is to ring up and get someone who talks to them and knows their situation.

Try to write according to the life they want to live. And when it comes to service at claim they want an intelligent person who can understand their problem - an underwriter who is there. The service is crucial because all the policies are roughly alike.

What can brokers do to make the most of opportunities in the HNW market now?

There are a lot of people with standard policies and there is a lot of art currently being bought. It's getting these people to realise they need a special policy.

The High Night Worth Forum is free to attend for brokers and was full to capacity at the inaugural event last year so book your place today.

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