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Possibility through partnership… Lombard Insurance celebrates 21 years of service excellence

01 October 2011 FAnews

Lombard Insurance Company was registered in 1990 as a specialist insurance company in the surety and credit guarantee markets. Within a decade, and thanks to its strong relationship with its reinsurers, the group offered Credit Insurance, Trade Finance an

Since2007 Lombard Insurance has entered into eight strategic equity partnerships with specialist underwriting management agencies (UMAs). A year later the group acquired a life licence which opened up a number of new product avenues. Aside from the products already mentioned the company now offers Trade Finance and Premium Finance facilities through specialist lending businesses. And through co-operation agreements with global partners it provides information on local businesses, enabling credit underwriting to take place for foreign companies wanting to trade within South Africa. As Lombard Insurance celebrates 21 years in the industry it boasts an impressive and varied product offering.

Excellent partners

We spoke to Dion Rheeder, Marketing Manager of Lombard Insurance about the company’s successful growth model and what the future might hold. “When Lombard Insurance decided to follow the UMA model, we identified specific industries in which we wanted to operate,” he said. “As things stand we are confident we have found excellent partners in all the areas that we identified. But this doesn’t mean that we are closed to the idea of taking on new partners. We are always on the lookout for expert underwriters of niche insurance products to expand our offering.”

The group appears intent on maintaining its current growth trajectory. “We are excited and optimistic about the future of the group,” said Rheeder. “Our current businesses are showing good, sustainable growth and we are looking to enter into various ventures abroad.” Negotiating a new partnership can be a time consuming process, and each potential UMA partner is carefully screened. The company singles out like-minded people with similar values, thereby ensuring consistency of service throughout the group. And the next change could happen sooner than we think. A little bird told us the group will shortly be announcing another partnership to bolster its already impressive footprint!

Core values attract skills

A fast growing business has to work extremely hard to keep its clients happy. Lombard does this by focusing on service excellence at every level of the business. And it is hard at work to maintain its impeccable reputation. “Lombard Insurance is a values driven organization and one of our core values, as well as our company purpose, is excellence. We work hard at instilling the company values in our people and try to attract and retain people who live these values,” said Rheeder. The concept of excellence is carried through to the product level, where the insurers thrives to deliver a quality product backed by the group’s financial strength and delivered in an efficient and customer-friendly way.

FMI, a leader in the South African Income Protection space, illustrates the lengths to which Lombard will go to build partnerships and ensure client satisfaction. In 2009 the FMI welcomed the insurance company as their new underwriters and strategic partner. Within moments of this announcement FMI introduced a completely revised group product and unveiled a range of innovative enhancements to their market-leading temporary income protection offerings.

One of the many challenges for a niche or specialist insurer is to achieve industry-wide recognition for its brand. We asked Rheeder whether local brokers knew and understood the Lombard brand and appreciated the rich variety of product on offer through its various partners. “Because Lombard Insurance operates in niche markets with specialized distribution channels, there has not been a great need for brand awareness in the greater intermediary market,” he said.

But the group’s recent diversification has changed all that. “With our entry into the life market we’ve had to rethink our strategy. That’s why our new advertising campaign is aimed predominantly at the broker/advisor market to create a greater awareness of the Lombard Insurance brand and the products offered within the group!”

The broker is paramount

Greater interaction with the broker market will require continuous process improvement. Rheeder continued: “The philosophy of Lombard Insurance Group has always been to be the provider of ‘best in class’ insurance products in our chosen market, by creating sustainable relationships with suppliers, distribution channels and clients alike. The role of the broker has become paramount in the future success of our business. The FAIS regulations around Conflict of Interest have levelled the playing fields around relationship building with intermediaries, but we believe in offering them a genuine, win-win relationship that is sustainable over a long period of time.”

As part of its “coming of age” celebration the group launched a hard-hitting advertising campaign. “How we do business is what differentiates us. We wanted to portray this in our advertising campaign. We also wanted a campaign that would set us apart from other players in our market and I think we succeeded,” said Rheeder.

How fitting then to end this article with the tagline from their campaign: Imagine the possibilities if the right partnerships were made. Lombard Insurance believes in these possibilities and the partnerships that make them realities...

Portfolio

Apart from the traditional products already mentioned, Lombard provides a portfolio of specialist insurance products across a variety of industries through both a short-term and life licence.

Products offered include:

• Construction Bonds
• Custom and Excise Bonds
• Mining Rehabilitation Guarantees
• Deposit Guarantees (Deposit Advantage)
• Trade Credit Insurance
• Engineering Insurance (Consort)
• Professional Indemnity (Leppard Underwriting)
• Liability (Leppard Underwriting)
• Heavy Commercial Vehicle insurance (HCV)
• Credit Life (PinnAfrica)
• Consumer Credit Protection (PinnAfrica)
• Income Protection (FMI)
• Marine Insurance (UMS)
• Commercial Property and Hospitality Fire Insurance (F&I)

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