By: Christelle Colman and Tarina Vlok, Elite Risk Acceptances
High-net-worth individuals – a rapidly growing market segment in South Africa – typically have a large portfolio of short-term insurance cover.
The concept for Elite Risk Acceptances – an innovative high- net-worth personal insurance start- up which has just launched to the South African short-term insurance market – came about when Old Mutual Insure identified the need for a solution to better service the specific needs of this segment without having to find insurance solutions elsewhere.
As fate would have it, short-term insurance veterans, Christelle Colman and Tarina Vlok, both became available earlier this year and decided the time was opportune to embark on the exciting journey towards establishing this new underwriting business. Colman and Vlok were appointed as Managing Director and General Manager, respectively, and the dream team of Elite Risk Acceptances was born.
“The prestige of the blue-chip brand of the oldest short-term insurer in South Africa creates a synergy that we have always felt would resonate with the target market,” says Colman, whose role as Managing Director of Elite sees her return to the short- term insurance industry after spending two years as the CEO of the local arm of a global company, Europ Assistance South Africa, where she gained invaluable exposure to the global insurance market.
This, however, is only the culmination of an illustrious career in which Colman has been dedicated to the short-term insurance sector and is a known innovator among her peers. Prior to Europ Assistance, she was at the helm of MUA Insurance Acceptances for a number of years where she was the strategic driving force behind changing the company from a motor only underwriter to a fully-fledged wealth underwriter specialising in all classes of business.
But Colman first made her mark in the industry at the tender age of 25 when she founded Thatch Risk Acceptances specialising in a class of business no insurer was interested in underwriting – and 20 years later, the business is still thriving. It was during this time that Colman’s path crossed with Vlok, who climbed up the ranks of Thatch Risk Acceptances from
New Business Underwriter to Claims Manager.
Following this, Vlok spent four years at MUA Insurance Company, where she fulfilled the role of Claims Manager and again worked alongside Colman on MUA’s first non-motor high net-worth product. Vlok’s next move was to Santam, where she spent nine years as Product Development Manager, and was instrumental in the successful implementation of the Personal Lines product as part of Santam’s policy administration replacement project.
In her role as General Manager of Elite, Vlok – who boasts 17 years’ technical short-term insurance experience, predominantly in operations and product development – has been responsible for developing the product and for creating innovative solutions tailored to the specific asset insurance needs of the wealth segment. She has a knack for creating order from chaos, is energised by finding simple solutions to complex challenges, her technical background in insurance gives her a sophisticated grasp on even the most theoretical aspect of personal lines insurance.
These qualities perfectly complement those of Colman, whose unwavering passion for the short-term insurance industry and natural leadership abilities have ensured that she is always at the forefront of the sector creating innovative solutions to secure South Africans’ most valuable assets.
In designing the product, Vlok says they looked at product solutions from abroad, especially the United Kingdom, where the product and service models relating to high- net-worth cover are particularly sophisticated. “This enabled us to create an innovative and unique value proposition. We believe the market is ready for a high net-worth insurance underwriter backed by a blue-chip insurance license.”
Hannes Wilken, Old Mutual Insure acting Chief Executive Officer, echoes Vlok’s sentiment that the time was right for a specialist high-net- worth offering within the insurer. “We realised that the affluent market sector had increased considerably and we needed a service offering that was tailor-made to the specific needs of this market. Striving to always improve our value proposition to intermediaries and customers remains our objective and this development was a natural next step for us.”
The team has intimate knowledge of the client segment that Elite will serve, assures Colman. “We want to give sleek, seamless and fully- integrated product and service solutions, enabling brokers to provide exceptional service to their most valued clients.
“For this reason, our product will be available on the MyOMInsure broker platform, which will enable brokers to do their own quotes, issue policies and even register claims. This platform is the best of breed technology and built specifically
to ensure doing business with Old Mutual Insure and Elite is as seamless and straightforward as possible,” says Colman, who realises that using technology to improve the service offering to their brokers, is key to the success of Elite.
“We are confident that we have designed a product that is unparalleled in the current market space,” adds Vlok, who lists some of the unique features offered by the product below:
- Asset valuations for property (Buildings and Contents);
- Average removed from contract;
- True assets all risks cover with world-wide extension under Contents;
- Agreed value cover for fine art and collectibles;
- An embedded international travel insurance option for the whole family which is a first in South Africa; and
- Unique motor vehicle cover options including cover for self-driving cars whilst parking or driving themselves, and a world-first gap cover for reduction in vehicle retail value following an accident.
The Elite dream team concludes that they are overwhelmed by the support they have received from not only OMI staff and management, but also their business partners, brokers and Old Mutual Personal Financial advisors. “Together we are confident that we will make a significant impact on the market.”
Elite Risk Acceptances is officially open for business, with effect 1 August 2018. To find out more, visit www.eliterisk.co.za or email a quote request to firstname.lastname@example.org.