Build-Zone’s managing director, Paul Kempton, speaks to PBC Today about the structural warranty industry and why they’re best placed to underwrite your warranty
Build-Zone was created as a 10-year structural warranty provider in 2003 and is a trading style of Sennocke International Insurance Services Limited, which was established in 1990.
The company’s history spans over 30 years. They are now experienced in underwriting Structural Warranties for all types of developments, from a single unit new home warranty to a large, residential or commercial latent defects insurance policy.
Kempton says: “2003 is when Build-Zone really kicked off. We set it up, bought the team in, and began getting to grips with the market starting with Self-builds (under the Selfbuild Zone brand – which has just won the Best Self Build Insurance Provider of the Year Award). As they say from Acorns…
“The difference between us and other warranty ‘providers’ is that we are actually insurance professionals and don’t just sit around a table trying to source the cheapest deal by acting as a post-box.”
“Risk management is absolutely crucial for us. We set up Build-Zone Survey Services as a separate company to offer the technical services and risk management side – crucial to any successful building project.
“Most Underwriters know what we do and why we do it. It’s not just about price – it’s about the overall service capability and helping clients through what are going to be busy but difficult times.
“We’re entering a different time now and the main thing is looking after your customer. Having that expertise to hand means the client can concentrate on managing his business and getting more business.
“One of the market experts in structural warranties and customer service Zaf Choudry has just joined us. Having been through a number of recessions we want to make sure our clients get the best all round service and help.”
On 12 June, Build-Zone announced it had secured backing from A-rated insurer, AXA XL part of the AXA group.
Why did you choose AXA?
AXA is a huge French company, they are a household name, and one of the largest insurers in the world. We’re in this business for the long term and of course deal in long-term policies, so we wanted an insurance company that is reliable, has been in the business a long time and understands it and is going to continue being around.
There are a number of new entrants in the market who don’t fully understand the business and what can go wrong. There are people that you can go to within the insurance market who aren’t interested in the risk. Some so-called insurers are more interested in money market rather than the risk market. We have been careful who we want to work with.
A lot has changed over the years within the structural warranty industry – now to get a relationship with any insurer you have to go through hoops. You have to prove to them that your model works financially, and your risk management is done properly.
It has taken us a number of months to negotiate with AXA – on both sides. AXA has a real depth of understanding when it comes to the industry and their quality of people is very high.
AXA’s understanding of the subject and quality of people is extremely high and that’s what we look for because our reputation stands a lot on this and you don’t want to be seen with unrated insurers that keep going down.
In the last five years or so there has been a significant number of insurance providers ceasing business or going into liquidation with the likes of Elite, Alpha, Qudos, CBL, Gefion and others. Then look at what’s happened recently with the likes of BLP losing the backing of Allianz Global – people would like to see some stability as it is not good for the industry.
The industry is experiencing market losses across the board and now they’ve been hit by potentially large claims caused by Covid. There are going to be a lot of changes going on and attitudes to various types of business will change.
The whole market is in a state of flux, so when you are considering who you want to partner with, you need to do your research on them just as much as they do on you.
Another benefit of AXA is that they are professional multi-channelled insurers. One of the ideas we are keen about at Build-Zone is extrapolating ideas and relationships. For instance, if you’re doing single builds/small developments, why not keep the relationship going. A developer, whether B2R etc, will need other insurances – so by taking people through one of the most difficult parts of the process, you are establishing a relationship built on trust.
I believe if you do that properly then why shouldn’t you be able to sell them other products. We want a partner that has those sorts of capabilities to handle that.