Are better days on the horizon for insurance? Gallagher’s new Deputy MD for Sheffield, Emma Thornton, explains.

15th May 2024

Today’s insurance market, for certain sectors, can mean bigger premiums and less coverage. It takes a broker and risk management specialist with big leverage to navigate it properly. Emma Thornton, Deputy Managing Director for Gallagher Sheffield explains

On the perimeter of the Drakehouse Retail Park, nestled behind some more well-known names like Tesla, Greggs, Tim Hortons, and Homebase sits Gallagher insurance brokers. The name might be familiar to some, but for those who it isn’t, Gallagher has a rich history dating back to 1927 and has grown to become one of the leading insurance brokers in the world, offering a wide range of services to both individuals and organisations.

Here in the UK, Gallagher operates through a network of offices. Closer to home on Drakehouse Crescent, Emma Thornton has recently joined as Deputy Managing Director of the Sheffield branch.

Gallagher has been serving businesses and individuals in Sheffield under various names brought about by a series of mergers and acquisitions throughout its history.  Some readers may remember Hart Owens, Sheafmoor and Oval and in fact many of the individuals that worked for these local brokers now work at Gallagher.

Being part of a century-old international business with a local presence is what allows Gallagher to give clients a personal service whilst having the backing of an international player in what Emma believes allows it to offer the best solutions to businesses here in the city and one of the reasons she joined 6 months ago.

“We are part of Gallagher, the third biggest broker in the world, with over 52,000 staff. The business is listed on the NY Stock Exchange but what’s great for our clients is, the Sheffield office offers a local and personal service to businesses in the region and that’s something I feel is extremely important. What’s nice about that is we have that local knowledge, but equally the leverage that being on an international scale gives us.”

Emma begins.

“What sets Gallagher apart is its dedication to building long-term relationships with clients. We prioritise understanding clients' businesses and industries, enabling us to offer customised solutions that address specific risks and challenges. Our client-centric approach has earned us a reputation for delivering exceptional service and exceeding expectations.”

“Gallagher has the breadth of service that a business needs and huge leverage with the insurers to get great deals for clients but at our heart, we’re a local business. We’re the right balance,” she says.

The Gallagher Way

Emma stresses that insurance isn’t just about getting the lowest premiums. Risks have changed for businesses over the last few years, accelerated by world events such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine for example, which is why it pays to partner with a broker on the world stage.

Emma says.

"Our methodology is strong; when we’re looking at a client, it’s not just about the premium they pay it’s about what risks face that business, then we put in place a risk management and insurance programme tailored to their needs.”

“A lot of the principles of what we do apply to most trades. The broad advice is, you have to look at risk in and around the total cost of risk, not just the insurance premium because that’s just a small fraction of how you reduce risk. It’s about things that could undermine the balance sheet. A lot of people carry cover for low-range items which is insuring risk that won’t put them out of business. We advise no fussing with low-level stuff and instead looking at what’s a catastrophic risk. We think about what cover you can carry yourself; we don’t need to insure everything under the sun, it’s about prioritising.”

Why now might be a good time to get a second opinion on your insurance programme.

After several years of a hard insurance market, the industry is now experiencing a softening trend which should be welcome news for businesses in Sheffield.

Explaining the landscape of the insurance and risk management market at present, Emma continues:

“Every business has its challenges right now, with some distressed more than others. However, we are beginning to see some signs of the insurance market softening.  As a result, insurance buyers may find it easier to obtain coverage, negotiate better terms, and potentially benefit from lower premiums. However, it's important to note that the insurance market is cyclical, and conditions can change over time.”

“That’s why it could be good to get a second opinion on your insurance programme,” Emma says.

Emma continues,

“When we undergo a review, we do a deep dive into any uninsured gaps, limits and whether businesses have the appropriate terms in place. We plug your business into our unique benchmarking tool which provides you with a report measured against different criteria. It even benchmarks you against your peers. Often, we find that businesses have had critical aspects of their needs either overlooked or missed altogether.”

“It’s never easy telling a business that they’ve been uninsured for years, or that they’ve not had the right policy. You can see the whites drain from their eyes, but we always have the clients’ best interests at heart in this process. Being able to use our global tools and services to help local businesses in Sheffield source competitive insurance and risk management solutions is what makes us different. It’s the Gallagher way.”  

If you would like to speak to Emma and the Sheffield team about your insurance and risk management programme, contact Emma on Emma_Thornton@ajg.com or 07714 677651.

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