High Praise for Gloucester Insurance Company
PUBLISHED: 17:36 24 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 20 February 2013
Ecclesiastical celebrates 125 years in business
High Praise for Gloucester Insurance Company
Ecclesiastical celebrates 125 years in business.
This summer Gloucestershire-based Ecclesiastical Insurance celebrated its 125th anniversary. It also turned over just under 500 million last year.
Congratulations - but as its Group Chief Executive, Michael Tripp, points out: Many companies are a lot older its not the years that are important, its what youve achieved that really matters.
Ecclesiastical has achieved a lot. Owned by registered charity The Allchurches Trust to which it was able to make a grant of 10.25 million last year Ecclesiastical, as its name would suggest, insures most of the churches in Great Britain, and other faith buildings including mosques, Hindu temples and half the synagogues across the country. Whatever your faith, if you worship inside, itll need insurance. Ecclesiastical is also the biggest single insurer within the education sector, including the new academies. Other sectors include care, charity, heritage, fine art, home, motor and travel insurance. Most of its work (80 per cent) is done through brokers, 20 per cent is done directly. Michael thinks this direct link to customers is very important.
The insurer employs around 1,400 people across the world with offices in Australia, Canada and Ireland as well as across the UK, and longer term Michael sees opportunities for the company in new geographies. Think of all the heritage and ancient buildings across Europe, and in parts of Asia, he says.
I first interviewed Michael around five years ago, not long after hed taken over at Ecclesiastical. At the time it had just confirmed a strong commitment to Gloucestershire by announcing the building of a brand new headquarters at Gloucester Docks. Then Michael said confidently: Well be in by 2012. Theyre not thanks to the economic slow down, but the company is actively pursuing the project again and plans to put architectural designs out for consultation later this year. He shrugs when I remind him of our conversation. Itll be worth the wait probably better because of it, he promises.
Soon after Michael took over, the floods of 2007 devastated much of the country and certainly the Cotswolds. It was a busy time for the insurer which worked hard to support its customers. Since then, Ecclesiastical has become even more proactive. We are all here to look after our customers, but around 200 members of staff focus explicitly on helping those we insure manage their risk, he explains. Such a collective approach reduces the number of claims.
Its also better for our customers because each claim represents a traumatic event for the claimant. By reducing the claims, we help minimise the stress which could have been brought on by incidents that have been avoided.This year Ecclesiastical has won two key awards: The British Insurance Award (BIA) for Underwriting Initiative of the Year and also the BIA Young Achiever of the Year went to David Britton at the company. The Underwriting Initiative of the Year is for real estate Property Insurance.
Here the company is differentiating itself from other similar insurers by virtue of its expertise in heritage buildings, often part of a property owners wider portfolio, and the fact that a significant number of property owners tend to be driven by more than short term financial gain. Its charitable status and ambition to be the UKs top corporate donor is likely to appeal to this sector the Crown Estates was an early organisation to sign up to this new product. Ecclesiasticals goal is to be a top-five property investor insurer within five years, and it is on target to achieve this.
In 2011, and under difficult economic conditions, new third party (external customers) funds under management by Ecclesiastical Investment Management reached 142 million. Since 1988, Ecclesiastical Investment Management Limited has been at the forefront of socially responsible investing. The insurer launched one of the UKs first retail ethical investment funds the Amity UK Fund over 20 years ago. In total, it now manages around 1.9 billion.We are ethical, thats what makes us different, says Michael.This ethical approach starts at home.
To celebrate the companys 125 years, it is offering to donate 125 on every staff members behalf to the charity of their choice once they have done a day providing some kind of support to the charity (anything from painting a wall, re-vamping a website, doing some media coaching, mentoring, creative design, etc the list is endless).With around 900 staff members in the UK, this means the insurer is putting up over 112,000 for staff to spend on any charity they like in addition to all the other usual sponsorship and partnerships activities.
As at July 2012 nearly 200 staff members had taken up the offer, resulting in 25,000 going to charities across the country.Ecclesiastical was founded 125 years ago with the idea of insuring church property and ploughing any profits back into the good works of the Church.Celebrating the insurers anniversary, Michael Tripp is happy with what has been achieved so far. While our client base is much wider than in 1887, this is a commitment we are still proud to keep today.