A YEARLY ROUND - UP BY HELEN WITHERS

In light of the commencement of Arc Legal’s 15th year of trading in 2018, Managing Director Helen Withers shares her insights on the journey of the business, her personal highlights over the years and the road ahead in a growing company’s evolution.

As Arc Legal enters its 15th year of trading in 2018, what are some of your personal and professional highlights since launching the business with Richard and Frank? 

Starting the company was a risky enterprise as we had all been employees previously and were starting the business using our own personal investment. Within a year we had secured enough business to breakeven, which was an early highlight that gave us the confidence that we would be able to make Arc Legal succeed.

We have tried to keep continually evolving as we have grown. Every contract win is a highlight, as it demonstrates that we are still at the leading edge of the market. As we have expanded, it has also been satisfying to be able to bring in more people to broaden the talent pool. It’s been a delight to be able to provide training and development opportunities to take them forward in their careers.

Arc Legal has consistently focused on investing and developing the service and products it provides. Why is it important for the business to do this and how have clients benefited?

The legal expenses insurance (LEI) market is consistently evolving, and so it is important for us to lead the market rather than to follow it. We do this by proactively developing our service delivery and product coverage.

We constantly review our products and services in line with market changes and customer requirements. For example, we are currently looking at the outcomes for claimants who have not been able to progress their claim under the LEI policy, either because it doesn't fit within the cover or doesn't have prospects of succeeding and costs proportionate to pursue. The aim is to identify further assistance or better signposting to other services.

We are focused on the use of technology to optimise the customer experience. We believe that our online claims submission system is the best in the market and are continually improving data gathering with key business partners, particularly panel solicitors, to reduce the need for re-keying data and to ensure we are capturing as much information as possible from the outset at minimal burden to the customer.

The company has had a market-leading position in the legal expenses sector since it was established. How has the business achieved this and how will Arc Legal continue to maintain that position in the future?

We consistently monitor the needs and requirements of our clients and their customers. We see it as essential that product development is based on identifiable customer needs.

We have always operated a flexible business model which allows us to provide bespoke products to clients that best meet their customers' requirements. This flexibility applies to the product specification, the servicing model, the choice of panel solicitor and the underwriting provision.

With 2018 fast approaching, what is your outlook for Arc Legal - continued innovation, new products and services, further business growth?

We are continually bringing innovation to the LEI market. This is both in terms of helping customers whose claims are not covered by the policy, as mentioned above, and new products for specialist sectors. As an example, we have recently developed LEI cover for close protection bodyguard services; to protect high profile bodyguards from legal issues they may face as a result of their employment.

As a market-leading provider, our clients often look to us to provide other specialist or add-on insurance products such as personal accident insurance, key protection and other ancillary products. Therefore, in partnership with specialist service providers, we have developed a portfolio of products which we have designed and then manage the client relationship, providing them with one point of contact for all their product solutions. A recent addition to this portfolio is the personal cyber product, which further demonstrates the level of innovation we bring to our assistance products portfolio.

Geographically, we are focussed on the UK and the Republic of Ireland (RoI), where we are currently seeing strong growth. In response, we have launched a portfolio of ancillary products enabling our Irish clients to consolidate their product offering with one provider.

The legal expenses sector has faced an unprecedented period of change in recent years. Can you tell us more about how Arc Legal has evolved to respond to the opportunities this has provided?

With increased regulatory scrutiny of add-on products, our client-focus is now strongly on customer benefit. We have conducted extensive reviews of the products, with the aim of providing broader coverage and assisting more customers. We have also increased the amount of information that we capture and improved our management information so that our clients have access to more granular detail on the outcomes for their customers when calling on the LEI product.

We are also, in conjunction with our solicitor partners, developing new servicing models for the motor LEI market in anticipation of the proposed legal reforms to the personal injury sector. Again, these options will be offered on a flexible basis to meet the varying needs of our clients and their customers.

How has your “typical” day changed in the last 15 years?

My typical day has changed beyond all recognition! In year one, the three of us were entirely focused on developing the business proposition, bringing on underwriting and solicitor partners, and sales and marketing activity. As an accountant, I also had to manage the finances and do the bookkeeping.

As the business grew, the three of us progressively took on more functions, including servicing claims and developing IT systems. We now have around 100 employees and a structure with department heads to manage each function, so my role has moved away from the day to day running of the business and is more focused on strategic developments and decisions.

Becoming part of AmTrust in mid-2016, represented the next stage in the company's development and provides us with additional resources, plus the support and backing to allow us to gear up our plans for the next stage of growth and evolution in the coming years; who knows what my ‘typical day’ will become next year! 

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