We believe that it is not what we do in life that matters but how we treat people, day in, day out, that is the ultimate measure of all things.
So, at The Business Insurance Bureau you’ll only ever speak to a human being. That’s a human, being interested enough to help, being interested enough to return your calls, being interested enough to care. And that’s because our team, being human, are empathetic and curious, which makes us irresistibly interested in You and what we can do to help secure the integrity of your business’s future.
This is congruence, lining up belief and behaviour, what we stand for, which is as important as what we do.
Where it all began...
The Business Insurance Bureau originally started as The Glasgow Insurance Bureau, which was founded by Robert Hannah in January 1983 after leaving Eagle Star to go out on his own.
The business focused largely on life insurance, pensions and business insurance, and was originally based at 10a Queen's Crescent, Glasgow. At the time Bob was married to his wife Debbie who he ran the business with, and they had two young children.
The fire that changed everything...
On 1st March 1987, a warehouse insured through The Glasgow Insurance Bureau burned to the ground. Three of four insurers were happy to pay up, but in a break with market convention, the fourth refused to pay.
Bob was falsely implicated in their decision, and landed with a writ for £1.5million and taken to court. The case dragged on for 4 years, with the insurers hoping Bob would give in so they could get away with not paying the claim.
After the court case...
Thankfully Bob’s version of events were preferred by the now famous Lockerbie Bomber judge, Lord Sutherland, and he won the case. The claim was eventually paid out.
Feeling relieved but exhausted, he vowed to use what he learned from the experience to help his clients avoid significant claims and the psychological torture that comes with them.
"Wherever there is a target, there is a travesty"
“Wherever there is a ‘target’ – there is a travesty. That’s my observation.
Sales targets have a role for physical goods, but little else – especially not business insurance.
Many things of great importance can become sacrificed for a ‘target’. Running like a hamster on a wheel, people can lose their sense of purpose, justifying the expedient over the correct.
So, we don’t have individual sales targets: we build relationships.
It’s not about selling products, it’s about understanding customers. Some things just can’t be commoditised. We grow organically – it’s slow, patient and puts people before the short term results – but ironically, it’s long term profitable.
Every year or so, we run a team seminar called “All you need is Love” – sounds corny, I know, but I’m serious about it. If you love what you’re doing, you don’t need any artificial motivation to go the extra mile – ‘there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done’.
We endeavour to make sure our clientele’s future can be secured in the worst of circumstances.
To be human, being responsive, you have to understand how other humans feel. But empathy is more than that, it means taking those feelings into account. It is the foundation of everything else. Hamsters can’t do this.
Wherever we exceed expectations, I find those relationships cross a threshold and we build for the future of us all: our clientele, our staff and our business. It’s a virtuous circle, the only true success.
Sometimes, the most important figures don’t appear on the accounts: the multiplying effect of quality work, of satisfied clients, of a committed and self-motivated team.
This is our modus operandi – the way we do things, how we can build our business by first protecting yours, properly.
Of course, this modus operandi is the triumph of the customer over all else. Arguably, there is nothing new or original here. And, after all, customer service can’t be a competitive advantage – anyone can do that surely?
They say there are no traffic jams on the extra mile – and I find that to be true – yes, anyone can do customer service, but in my industry, no one does what we do in the way that we do it.
I find that’s what gets results.”
Businesses try hard to shape customer perceptions through their brand identity and ‘Bob The Broker’ does that brilliantly for us by expressing what we stand for, on all the paper we have to look good on.
But few insurance businesses express themselves beyond two dimensional and I think it’s important to get beyond insurance: this is a people business. The real Bob is hopefully a bit more, but not overly, rounded.
Meet 'Bob The Broker'
The Bob the Broker cartoon is the brand personification of The Business Insurance Bureau.
As our brand ambassador, Bob usually has important things to say, and being an old hippy at heart, he usually says them with a placard, as though he was the best dressed protester on a CND march.
From an insurance perspective, he’s got a lot to protest about, mostly trying to shake off the overwhelming complacency most people feel about Bob’s purpose in life: getting their insurances spot on and complying with the policy conditions.
Bob’s presence is intended to be happy, humorous and colourful – so if he catches your eye and you act upon his advice, he’ll have succeeded in his mission.
Our spiritual guru in a suit with a Duchamp tie, Bob and his hippie camper van exist to remind us that we are all on the journey to making it cheaper by doing it right.
"There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done"
There’s a scene in the movie, “Play It Again, Sam” where the main character goes on an arranged ‘blind’ date.. Asked the next day how the date went, he replies “I’ve spent better nights with an insurance salesman”.
The perception that insurance is ‘boring but important’ does not reflect the reality. In modern parlance, it’s really quite ‘sexy’.
Underwriting and broking the colossal risks facing the business community is enormously challenging, intellectually stimulating and riveting for the curious. As lives and livelihoods are on the line, it is never dull, but it is absolutely vital in its importance.
Many businesses like to think of themselves as being in a passionate endeavour, a higher purpose -and we’re no different. Securing the future from the jaws of random chance and human failings is among the most satisfying work you can complete and this is what we do. The range of and diversity of risks insured within our clientele is amazing.
“All you need is love” has been our philosophical standpoint and backdrop since Bob began the business in 1983 – it’s about finding your purpose and fulfilling it.
John Lennon’s lyric, ‘ There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done’ speaks not just for an internal attitude of disciplined, committed, self-reliance and self- belief, but also for the external spirit of the Victorian pioneers of modern underwriting, where industrial ‘progress’ was made possible through the ability transfer the risks involved to the insurance industry. The scope of insurability is breath-taking, nothing that ‘can’t be done’ – and we can do it for you.
Our passion comes from a fascination about businesses, the people who make things happen, the inventiveness that makes things work.
Like a benign investigative journalism, our mission is three fold: first to research and understand and secondly, to explain and thirdly, to turn that understanding into a secure, insured future.
This website is part of that ‘mission to explain’, in simple language, many things of great importance which are often obscured by day to day living, yet cannot be ignored without prejudicing the protection you rely upon for the worst of days.
However noble the intention, insurance companies are not philanthropists, these are highly conditional contracts – often conditional upon your own behaviour, about how you run your business.
Strategically, we want to get ‘beyond insurance’, getting our hands dirty by helping you to minimise risk. This is because, in his forty plus years in this industry, Bob has never seen a serious claim where the insured outcome was better than that the disaster hadn’t happened at all.
We’re here to help. So, we’ve kept it light- hearted, colourful and attention seeking. And, if that causes you to read it, to act upon it, we’ll have done a little to help prevent the disaster we’re all trying to avoid.
That’s what we stand for, which is as important as what we do.