• Sarah Fisher

How our insurance broker saved the day


When I was younger, I worked in a shop that sold goods on a “sale or return” basis. It appears that unknowingly this set the tone for my future and setting up MIH, which ultimately is a company that does not buy a product to sell but sells services.

On the basis that MIH do not have to buy something to sell at a higher price and as an industry, property management is not generally affected by market trends and it would seem setting up a property management company is easy. After all, the initial outlay is small and you can, as I did set up as an individual. In fact, I remember, when buying software being told by the agent that he had a client that ran 5000 units through the system using one a solo log in. With that thinking, it would seem a piece of cake – oh how I wish that were the case.

Uncertainties in starting a business

I have written about my family before, all of whom, in some way or another have been in retail, whether it be menswear, curtains or advertising. Speaking to my father recently we discussed how the current uncertainties make starting a business so difficult and to be honest three and a half years down the line I couldn’t agree more.

However, the luck, if that is the right word to use, that I had on my side was having built brilliant relationships with so many people in the industry and being able to capitalise on these. From the very first twinkle in my eye that became MIH I was able to speak to the people who would set me on the road and hit the ground running be they my IT Company, my then agent at QUBE now MRI, my web designer and of course my bank manager.

Our insurance broker – saving the day

It is true that all of these people helped me along the way but perhaps the most important person was my insurance broker St Giles. To save any blushes I won’t be naming anyone but I can truly say that they have been integral to MIH and through the course of my business they continue to prove themselves a worthy ally and most importantly, true experts in their field.

Although the times they have gone over and above and have pulled a rabbit out of a hat” are numerous, I thought it prudent for the sake of everyone’s sanity and for the sake of brevity, -not my strongpoint- to provide one example of their brilliance.

The issues of cladding

At the beginning of this year MIH took over a large block of flats which had issues with cladding. Despite having experience of cladding issues with another block in our portfolio, albeit not ACM (another instance of St Giles coming through for our clients when it was found that the previous agents had not informed the insurers of the cladding) this block had a different type of cladding, which was also considered equally high risk.

In fact, when the initial tests at the block had been undertaken the insurers advice to our client was to institute a waking watch.This as you can imagine, was prohibitively expensive, blew their annual budget out of the water and was not feasible to maintain. As the client refused to have a waking watch, a decision was taken to insure the property outside the main stream market, with the result being a hugely expensive premium to subsidise their risk. At the same time the client began to institute measures to reduce the risk although this did not go as far as removal of the cladding.

Analysing the risk

In December of last year MIH were officially informed that we would be taking over the property in the new year and it is at this point St Giles came riding in on their proverbial white horse. Like MIH, St Giles are happy to get a jump on the work and started to review the information provided to them. They immediately opened discussions with one of the surveyors acting for the insurance company on their panel and even attended the property in early January to satisfy themselves that they were not underplaying the severity of the risk to the surveyor. Although still not formally acting for the client they were able to negotiate with a main stream insurer to cut the premium in half with the good news being relayed to our mutual client on the official day the property was handed over to MIH.

A happy client

At this point, it would be misleading to suggest that the efforts made by our client had not had any effect on the premium but we believe that the prompt actions taken by St Giles, their understanding of the cladding (and they have invited MIH to attend cladding seminars alongside them) and their knowledge of the market mean that MIH have a very happy client and will be able to reduce their budget substantially for the next year.

I promised not to embarrass anyone at St Giles by mentioning names, but I will say that be it their brokers, their claims handlers or their office manager, they are among the best brokers I have ever dealt with. I know that for MIH we have a really good collaborator and partner in St Giles, belied by the fact that their office administrator, Rebekah Townsend told her Dad to come and work at MIH and be our Head of Accounts!


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