Industry: Transportables, relocations, commercial builders
When Myles and Grant met Sean, Laing Properties employed 15 staff (of which only 3 were builders) and had little construction work on the books coming off a 77% drop in construction sales though the recession in 2008-2009.
Grant and Myles were forced to relook at their insurance as their broker of 20 years was retiring. In August 2010 an insurance broker walks into the office who would be best described as a likeable bloke (“a good bastard, more to the point” according to Grant) who seemed to know what he was talking about and they took a chance on him.
It wasn’t long before Sean had to deliver on what he had promised. Only a month after appointing Sean, the company was faced with the first Christchurch earthquake. With a renewal date marked for 1st October, Sean had planned to negotiate new policies, but the earthquake shut the market down and he was left to manage the fallout and tweak policies where and when he could. According to Grant he performed perfectly. “On the night of the first Christchurch earthquake we had a large-scale building in 4 sections in Yaldhurst with a 6-figure progress payment due from the client the following week. The earthquake caused so much bewilderment in the construction sector and our client needed assurance that his project was covered. Sean immediately made sure it was, going into bat for our company” says Grant.
What Sean had taken on with the Laing account was policies across multiple insurers. For the next 2 years cover options were limited, premiums spiked hugely, and the market wasn’t operating normally. It was like trying to compete in a one-horse race. Sean invested the time and got to know Laing's unique operation. With work ranging from onsite construction to moving transportable homes around the South Island, Laing’s require around 6 policies working seamlessly together. Once a constructed building leaves the site the handover from contract works to transit insurance needs no wiggle room. This takes knowledge to control all the moving parts.
“We got out of that 2-year period unscathed, growing to 30 staff, expanding South Island wide and with our insurance cover negotiated through a single company and in an overarching policy” says Grant.
Although Grant and Myles have a good, general understanding of policies and what they mean, the detailed wording is where Sean is worth his weight.
“He compared policies and requested wording changes to suit our operation and had free and frank conversations with us about his recommendations, which has been essential to our relationship” says Grant.
That relationship has extended to Sean being seen as part of the team, with clients referred to him for a smooth handover from contract works to homeowner insurance.
“I recall one particularly complex build. The clients were completing the final work themselves (like steps and base boards) after the building was relocated. We couldn’t continue with our contract works because we had completed our portion of work, but they couldn’t get homeowner’s insurance as the remaining work was required for code of compliance. From that point they went to Sean’s team to organise interim contract works directly, then a homeowner policy following that. They couldn’t speak more highly of Sean and his team, and it meant the clients positive experience remained so until the last interaction. Reputation is everything and we know Sean respects that and will always do what he can” says Myles.
Most recently, the COVID 19 lockdown highlighted again the essential part a broker plays to their company, with 48 hours' notice to abandon sites, (including a $5 million project), it was a scramble to get security in place and to work out what was covered and what wasn’t in a very confusing time. Laing had a garage loaded on a trailer for 5 weeks. Technically it wasn’t in transit and it wasn’t in-situ or under construction. “We couldn’t allow any opportunity for loopholes in our policies and Sean had many conversations with us over lockdown to reassure us that everything was covered” says Myles.
Laing’s have never had a battle that Sean hasn’t been able to help them with. From technical policy changes to small claims. “GSI is well governed and managed and we get a lot of joy dealing with the whole team.”
A sentiment echoed by Sean.
“I’m always impressed by the professionalism of Laing Properties, Grant and Myles are hardworking figures in the construction/relocation sectors as well as in the community. As well as advising them on insurance, it was a pleasure to help their Rotary group raise $30,000 for St John last year" says Sean.
For the Laing Properties team, good relationships are everything in business. Although this can be a double-edged sword because if you have a good one you’re reluctant to change. But when it comes to insurance, they are glad they did.
“Working with GSI is easy, enjoyable, and most importantly, successful.”