Building a strong foundation
PFP Insurance Brokers recently celebrated its first anniversary of trading in South Africa this month.
Patrick Pillai, PFP’s Executive for Operations and Commercial Business Head, says the management has spent the majority of the first year building a team of service professionals and service capabilities in order to create a competitive offering in the South African market.
Whilst the corporate insurance market remains the primary focus for PFP and its UK shareholder, Price Forbes and Partners, locally there has also been a significant drive to capitalise on opportunities that exist in the commercial space. Pillai’s own appointment is testimony to this. A seasoned insurance professional with 20 years of experience in various types of commercial portfolios including large property groups, motor fleets, group schemes, travel insurance and various retail and wholesale industries, Pillai was brought on board to drive growth in the commercial market in South Africa.
During his time at PFP, he has been integrally involved in building product and system capabilities to handle both the corporate and commercial business. Pillai explains that PFP’s strategy for commercial business is built around applying a corporate mind-set to commercial clients, and involves really getting to know and understand each client’s own business while focussing on delivering a personal service to them. “We have even designed our own commercial policy wordings, which gives us the ability to support various aspects and client requirements that are often not supported by standard offerings. It also enables us to provide bespoke commercial solutions and products that suit our client’s needs and requirements.”
These developments are in line with Michael Donegan, Chief Executive of the Price Forbes Group, initial comments a year ago where he stated, “Establishing an office in South Africa offers businesses a new alternative choice delivered by an independent group focused on offering clients a bespoke and unrivalled service.”
Over the last 12 months Pillai has created over 50 agency agreements with local insurers and UMAs, in order to ensure PFP has the whole market covered. “It is vital to have this type of access to the market in order to get clients the most competitive pricing and rates available,” he says. The competitive landscape for commercial broking often involves small brokers who often only use two or three of the larger markets, and this possibly reduces their effectiveness in accessing the best rates. “We wanted to make sure that we could compete effectively with the bigger more established brokers.”
PFP has also invested in IT with the recent implementation of the Genesys Ski system, a leading provider of insurance-related IT systems in South Africa to support this commercial strategy. PFP will be using Ski for both its commercial and corporate administration processes including issuing of policies, administration of claims and collection of debit orders. This will give the business control over its administration and assist in providing up-to-date, pro-active and accurate information to its clients, without relying on various bespoke and legacy systems offered by insurers.
Finally, PFP’s claims are all handled in house, which means consistency and personal attention to each claim. “Clients enjoy dealing with the same person/people every time they lodge a claim and our claims team, headed by Agnisha Carstens, is an integral part of our service delivery engine.” With over 32 years of short term insurance experience, Carstens is no stranger to the industry having previously been responsible for establishing the claims procedure and setting up the Claims System for Alexander Forbes Risk Services.
“We are confident we now have the foundation in place to really drive both our corporate and commercial growth in 2014,” concludes Pillai.