You may not have heard of Towergate insurance, but if you’re looking at business insurance quotes and renewals a broker can help source policies and deals which would otherwise be inaccessible. Towergate have been sourcing policies for over 20 years, but how do they compare to other brokers and direct insurers? Read our review to find out what sets Towergate apart.
In This Review
- Towergate insurance: who are they?
- How does Towergate work?
- Towergate policy and Coverage Options
- Towergate clients: professions and industries
- Broker insurance costs
- What services do Towergate offer?
- What do Towergate customers say?
- What we think
Towergate insurance: who are they
As a brand, Towergate came into being in 1997, however the business itself has acquired and merged with hundreds of specialist brokers since inception, many of which traded for decades prior to acquisition by Towergate. As such Towergate can lay claim to an extensive pedigree, albeit in a roundabout fashion.
Towergate’s own website mentions that they are not a well known brand among consumers; this is because like many brokers they specialise in more difficult to place policies. For example, Towergate customers may have had a lot of historic claims, or perhaps they carry out especially risky or complex business which is hard to insure. As a broker, Towergate can call upon their experienced staff to source the right insurance policies for these difficult to insure businesses, but that doesn’t mean they can’t insure a range of other less risky businesses as well.
Towergate have over 100 offices across the UK. This is in contrast to a direct insurer which would tend to have far fewer, and is due again to Towergate’s specialism in difficult to insure business. Brokers tend to visit their clients more often in order to get a good understanding of their business activities, so having a local office is an advantage.
How does Towergate work?
As a broker, Towergate and its employees will have close ties to as many direct insurers as possible, many of whom will only provide policies through brokers. This allows them to assess their client requirements and obtain a suitable policy from one of hundreds of possible suppliers. There are a staggering range of types of insurance policy out there and not every insurer provides every kind of policy, so in some cases brokers like Towergate will approach several insurers to produce a final insurance portfolio or package for their clients.
A haulage and freight logistics and consultancy company operates out of an office in the UK but has global clients. They also own their own vessel which is crewed by employees of a sister company, and they advise their clients on the best shipping solutions, sometimes obtaining quotes from competitors and taking a small fee for providing this placement service.
The above business will likely need Professional indemnity from a specialist provider, although their office insurance is likely to be quite straightforward. They will also require coverage for their ship and specialist freight policies to protect the items they are shipping. A broker like Towergate might approach four separate insurers for each of the main policies for this business, eventually providing an insurance portfolio or package quote for all four, plus their brokerage fee.
Towergate policy and Coverage Options
Whilst different offices in the UK might specialise in different types of coverage, there’s really no limit to the types of policy a broker like Towergate can provide. With access to the entirety of the UK insurance market and employees with longstanding relationships with Lloyds insurers and their underwriters, if you require a totally unique insurance policy for something that has never been insured before, it’s possible that Towergate could work to create said policy on your behalf.
It’s not something that happens often, and usually demand has to grow to the point where it becomes profitable to offer, but this is how policies such as Cyber insurance, Microbrewery insurance and Driverless car insurance come into being. It’s typically brokers who request these covers in sufficient quantity from insurers for them to be created.
Quick Takeaway: even if Towergate don’t supply the policy your business needs it’s likely they can put you in touch with someone who does.
Towergate clients: professions and industries
With over 80 ‘specialisms’ listed on their website, it’s clear that Towergate have a wide selection of policies and providers to suit almost every business. If your work combines two interesting or difficult fields into one consultancy, or if you’re in an industry prone to claims, or even if you exist in a highly niche industry or position, you are likely to be a target customer for a broker like Towergate. The full list of specialisms is as follows:
- Agricultural supply and animal feeds
- Amateur and professional theatre
- Archaeology, museums and heritage
- Aviation and Aircraft
- Care professionals
- Care sector
- Cast metal & foundries
- Civil engineers
- Coffee shop
- Community assets
- Crane & plant hire
- Cyber, data and crime
- Dental surgery
- Distillery and vineyards
- Driving instructor
- Energy & offshore
- Environmental liability
- Esports and gaming
- Event cancellation
- Event contractors & suppliers
- Faith organisation
- Financial institution
- Fleet and commercial vehicle
- Fleet risk management and driver training (Safedrive)
- Garden & agricultural machinery
- Garden centre
- Glasshouse & commercial growers
- Health & beauty
- HGV & truck
- Intellectual property
- Internal drainage board / association of drainage authorities
- Kidnap and ransom
- Latent defects
- Legal indemnity
- Live sciences
- Media production
- Medical business
- Mini fleet
- Mobility adapted motor trade
- Motor trade
- Motorcycle track days
- Motorhome & caravan dealers
- Not-for-profit organisations
- Obstacle sports and endurance
- Performance bonds
- Personal guarantee
- Product recall
- Professional indemnity
- Professional indemnity for quantity surveyors
- Project managers
- Property owners
- Residential management liability
- Right to light
- Self-drive hire
- Sky Diving
- Specialist commercial vehicles
- Taxi fleet
- Tenpin bowling centres
- Terrorism and political violence
- Travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions
- Visionary scheme
- Warranty and indemnity insurance
You are also an ideal candidate for Towergate if you have experienced an above average number of claims in the past. Typically this will result in an increase to your insurance premiums and could cause some insurers to refuse to quote outright, but a broker like Towergate will have solutions for ‘troubled risks’, able to access special rates and policy wordings to allow businesses with a long or large claims history to continue to trade with some protection.
Broker insurance costs
A benefit to using a broker like Towergate is their ability to access ‘schemes’; discounted specialist policies provided by insurers to large groups of the same type of business. If Towergate have enough of a certain type of customer they can negotiate great premium rates with insurers and pass the savings on to their clients. Their collective clientele have far greater bargaining power than any individual business and insurers compete to offer the best premiums to these large groups.
Nail technicians tend to have a very low instance of liability claims, and often belong to regulatory bodies (or trade associations, or training bodies) which ensure a higher standard of practice across their members than unregulated industries. If a broker is able to show that they cover several hundred nail technicians they are then able to negotiate extremely competitive rates with insurers in exchange for moving all of their nail technicians to that insurer. Each individual policy pays less but the group of policies as a whole may be worth tens of thousands of pounds to any insurer, with very little chance of a claim.
Insurance brokers do however take a commission from the policies they sell, in addition to sometimes applying an administration fee for policies and portfolios. This means that although insurers may charge less for any given policy, a broker is able to pump up the premium to increase their profits.
When you approach a broker like Towergate it is likely that the first thing they will ask is whether you have already received any quotes, and the value of those quotes. This is so that they can gauge if they are able to help you or not; if you have an extremely competitive quote they will tell you and save you both time, but if they know your other quotes they can choose to offer you policies which are still competitive but perhaps not the cheapest you could access.
You have been quoted £1,000 for your insurance renewal with a direct insurer, much higher than last year. You decide to approach a broker for alternative quotes, but as your renewal was late you only have a few days to obtain alternative quotes. You tell your account executive at the brokerage that you have received a quote of £1,000. This allows her to immediately confirm that there are cheaper policies available on the market, saving you the time it might take waiting for alternative quotes which may otherwise be too expensive. Your account executive searches the market and realises she can offer you one of two quotes; one with insurer ‘A’ for £500 where her commission is 15% (£75), or another with insurer ‘B’ for £850 where her commission is 22% (£187).
In the above example both parties benefit from you taking a policy at £850—you get a cheaper renewal premium and the broker gets a higher commission, but since a broker still has an interest in making the most profit there are times when you won’t get the best deal you possibly could. Broker administration fees are typically set at a minimum level across all policies, but subject to change by the broker depending on the situation; in the above example for insurer ‘A’ the broker might add a £25 administration fee in order to hit their targeted minimum income per policy of £100.
Quick Takeaway: Whilst brokers like Towergate can negotiate excellent prices with insurers, they can also add fees and choose to offer you policies with higher commission rates in order to increase their own profits.
What services do Towergate offer?
Despite the above drawbacks, brokers like Towergate do work hard to justify the fees they charge, and a lot of what goes on behind the scenes will directly benefit you as their customer:
- Buying power much greater buying and negotiating power with insurers due to the sheer volume of insurance policies they place annually.
- In-house claims specialists Towergate employ a team of claims specialists in-house, who will negotiate with insurers on your behalf. A claims specialist employee will spend all day every day negotiating claims, interpreting clauses and arguing on behalf of their clients, and they become skilled and knowledgeable negotiators as a result.
- Risk Management Advice Towergate provide risk management and reduction consultations for their clients, which can help to reduce your risk of claims and make your workplace and practices safer as a result.
- Market knowledge and understanding Cheapest isn’t always best, and a broker like Towergate will steer clients towards policies which have the best value, i.e. offering the broadest cover for the price. Whilst this isn’t often the cheapest it will usually strike a good balance between cost and benefit and be the ‘best fit’ for your needs.
- Advisory Direct insurers are often unable to provide their clients with advice due to the way they are regulated by the FCA (i.e. they couldn’t tell you which cover level is best for your business, you would need to choose one unprompted). A Towergate representative is far less restricted, able to suggest cover levels, suitable policies and even covers for risks you may not realise you are taking.
Quick Takeaway: Towergate, like other brokers, are experts in placing business insurance and will guide and advise their clients to the best possible cover level.
What do Towergate customers say?
Feefo give Towergate a 4.6/5 based on over 4,000 ratings during the last year with the majority of reviews being 5 star. Here is a selection of these reviews to give you some idea of the service levels received.
Positive reviews focus on the ease of obtaining cover and straightforward nature of the quote process:
”The only company that referred the case rather than dismiss it and the price was remarkably competitive. Very pleased.”
”A very easy & straight forward process, coupled with clear & concise information from the advisor. I would thoroughly recommend Towergate.”
”Their website is easy to use and their customer service is great plus they always offer great value for money.”
Whereas the negative reviews focus more on fees and difficulty in obtaining terms:
”You need to train your staff”
”Negative. What should have been simple became extremely complicated and took up hours of my time- between waiting on the phone and talking to people, around eight hours I would guess.”
Trustpilot give Towergate a 4.1 out of 5 based on over 1,000 reviews, with the majority of reviews being 5 star.
A smaller sample size means this may be a less reliable third party opinion than Feefo’s 4,000+ reviews represent.
Positive reviews focus on customer service levels, good premiums and quick claims payments:
< "Clear, precise information from a friendly staff member who could not have been more helpful. I would have given 5 stars if the wait to speak to someone had been shorter. That being said it was Monday morning."
”Quick, efficient service. No drama.”
”Professional and helpful to work with. Generally excellent communication and advice.”
”...All of my photography kit is insured with them. A few months ago, camera took a tumble, boom, £600 repair needed. Spoke to Jo on the phone, she got the ball rolling with the claim - incredibly helpful, understanding and efficient...”
Negative reviews focus on claims experience, with several mentioning insurer claims teams rather than Towergate itself. Regardless there are some aimed squarely at Towergate:
”...Called to report a leaking toilet stack in our kitchen, a clear and immediate health and safety hazard. Got shunted around a bunch of different companies that sit behind Towergate...”
”Has this company gone bankrupt??? I have called for hours over the last two weeks to inform them of a change to my insurance but nothing, The phone lines are either dead or you are on an endless loop of an automated system.”
”Dreadful. Tried to contact but numbers are out of date or they simply cut out. The Croydon office seems impossible to reach right now.”
What we think
Using a broker has clear benefits for a specific type of client; if you have a complex set of insurance requirements, a troubled claims history or an especially complex or unique business model, you are likely to find the benefits of using a broker like Towergate very attractive and useful. The same goes if you like to outsource the effort of searching for competitive renewals every year, or if you value knowledge and experience over a rock bottom price.
If your business is straightforward with low insurance premiums then you may find it easiest to approach insurers directly or make use of online comparison sites to obtain the best quotes for you. Be aware that direct insurers are often limited in what they can advise you on due to the way that they are regulated, and that some insurers only do business through brokers, meaning they won’t appear on comparison sites and you can’t get a quote from them directly.