Steering a course to success
January 8, 2024
Founded more than 60 years ago to provide tailored support for the North East business community, independently-operated insurance broker Lycetts has evolved to ensure that farm and estate operators are comprehensively protected against industry fluctuation. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to William Nicholl, the firm’s client director, to find out more about its provision, its personal touch and why the North East will always be home.
Life is all about navigating bumps in the road.
Relief then for Lycetts.
Trusted like a well-thumbed A-Z map and as nimble as a satellite navigation system, the Newcastle-headquartered insurance broker is a market leader in steering clients along a smoother path.
And nowhere is its guidance more pronounced than across the rural sector.
From farm, agricultural motor fleet, rural business, country sports, estate and smallholding and hobby farming cover, to protection for enterprises spanning areas from renewable energy to dog walking, Lycetts’ support is as broad as its clients’ acreages.
“We grew from the rural sector, so have a much greater understanding of the environment than a lot of other insurance providers,” says William Nicholl, the firm’s client director.
He adds: “We are a general insurance broker that has many specialisms, which include the fact we live, breathe and work across the same landscape as clients.
“A long-held strapline of ours is, ‘we know your world’ – and we genuinely do.”
The intimacy to which William refers is borne out across Lycetts’ extensive catalogue, where its personal touch is underpinned by in-house underwriting capabilities that deliver expeditious support.
He says: “In the present environment, with changes to the farming landscape and significant diversification of buildings into ventures like holiday cottages, wedding venues and farm shops, we need to operate in a lot of different spheres.
“And that is reflected in the cover we provide.
“Thanks to our experience and expertise, we’re able to see moves in the market, like the rise in diversification and the move to environmental schemes, and design packages specific to that.
“Furthermore, by doing a lot of our own underwriting, we can make sensible and timely decisions,” says William, who advises landowners, farmers and private clients nationwide.
He adds: “But it also means we have the ability to amend policy schedules and wordings in the face of market changes, like the decline of the Basic Pay Scheme (BPS), for example.
“At the moment, farmers receive an annual payment for production.
“But the programme is changing to focus more on the environmental, with Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) – wherein things like carbon sequestration will become important to any landowner – with policies needing to reflect that.
“And we are very proud our underwriting team includes many we’ve trained from school age; it is another example of us knowing our clients and their respective worlds.
“It’s all very well an underwriter sitting with their computer and virtually shuffling bits of paper from one side of their desk to the other.
“But it is far better for them to be learning out on the ground – and that is what we do.
“I recently took a group to see a number of clients – we went to a principal house on an estate; farm cottages; a property being refurbished for commercial use; a castle; and a farm shop being extended to include a children’s play area.
“Seeing such a cross-section of the spheres in which we work was so much more beneficial for them and their understanding.”
While bolstering Lycetts’ insurance provision, though, William says such close relations equally strengthen the firm’s wider support network, not least its financial services division, which is headed by Chris Booth and delivers specialist advice across areas including pension and inheritance tax planning.
William says: “Insurance is about protection, whether it be your house, your business or your finance for future generations.
“And that is important, because while a client may have originally engaged our services for rural insurance, they may also have an inheritance tax issue, for example, which we can support.
“The comprehensive services we provide means a client has one button on their telephone that says Lycetts, which, by pressing, they know will help deal with all their insurance and financial matters.”
And providing a firm base for Lycetts to continue delivering such services is the company’s new headquarters, with the business having switched from Newcastle’s Edwardian Milburn House to the city’s Bank House high-rise last summer.
William says: “Moving to Bank House is us sticking our flag in the North East ground.
“We have 16 offices around the country, but I’ve always said we are Geordies and are proud of that fact.
“A lot of our competitors are based in the City of London, but the North East remains our engine room.”
He adds: “Lots of businesses have an office launch, but ours was an office refresh.
“We’ve been here for 60 years, and moving to Bank House was a reminder of who we are and a sign that we will very much remain part of the North East going forward.”
To find out more about Lycetts’ rural insurance packages, call its Newcastle head office on 0191 232 1151 or email [email protected]
Lycetts is part of the Benefact Group, a family of specialist financial services businesses that gives all available profits to charity and good causes.