Charity and care home products from existing businesses will complement each other - Stovin (pictured)

William Stovin, Markel International

Markel is focusing on the third sector with its acquisition of Abbey Protection according to Markel International president and chief operations officer William Stovin.

Speaking to GR’s sister title Insurance Times after announcing the deal, Stovin said the work both companies did with organisations such as charities and care homes would complement each other going forward.

Stovin said: “Abbey sells a significant proportion of its products to those similar clients (third sector organisations), but it offers different products and services to what we currently offer. So, the combination of what Abbey does and what we do will potentially be a massively powerful thing for that third sector and give the buyers something that isn’t currently available in terms of combination of products and advice.”

Bur Markel intends for Abbey Protection to continue trading under its own brand once the acquisition is complete.

“From our perspective, what Abbey has created over years of consistent growth and profit is a unique brand,” Stovin said. “Other people who play in this space tend to provide more commoditised products, and what Abbey does is provide this high-quality product alongside genuine professional advice and services. So the brand is very important.”

And the fact that the abbey Protection brand would be continued was an important element of the deal for Abbey Protection’s shareholders.

The senior executive management team at the legal expenses insurance broker holds 56.6% of the share capital and group managing director Chris Ward said brand continuity and the treatment of staff and clients was a key consideration when choosing who to sell the business to.

Ward said: “One of the key issues for us was clients and employees and how they will see things as we move forward. The fact that the decision is that we will continue to operate under our own brand identity sends out some really strong and important messages both to clients and staff.

“We always prided ourselves on this service and professionalism, and we’re really pleased that’s going to continue.”

And Ward said that this, combined with the similarities in culture at the two companies, made Markel the easy choice.

“Some 12 to 18 months ago we took the decision that we wanted to explore ways of realising our investment within the business. As we took that forward it became critical to us that we needed to come up with a solution that helped make money for shareholders, looked after shareholders but also, very importantly, provided comfort to our clients and also to our staff,” he said. “So as we went through the process it became clear to us fairly early on that Markel was almost the identikit purchaser for our business because it shared very similar business and service ideals and ethos.”

Stovin echoed this sentiment, and said that the quality of advice and service provided by Abbey Protection in addition to its insurance products helped Markel come to its decision.

“We first started talking to Abbey back last December, and from the very first conversation we knew that there was going to be a strong cultural fit between the two companies – same approach, attitude to business and people and providing a high-quality service to clients,” he said. “Abbey was a company that over time has built up a reputation as the provider of the highest quality legal and tax insurance products, but almost more importantly around those insurance products it wraps service and advice of the highest quality. That fits well with what we try and do in the UK. What we don’t like doing as a specialist insurance company is selling a commoditised, purely price-driven product.

“What we like doing is delivering a high-quality product – something that is of real value to the clients. And that’s exactly what Abbey does.”