Up close and personal with Tom Cotter, BestCover Insurance
How long have you worked as a Broker – how did you come into the industry?
I started my journey into insurance back in 2009 with AXA Insurance as a Sales Representative. I was selected for an internal programme to progress my personal development with the goal of becoming a branch manager within the group. I had great exposure to various departments whilst on the programme from sales, underwriting, claims, business development and spent time in many branches around the country. I made great friends and mentors along the way. I progressed internally to become branch manager of the AXA Insurance branch in Ballina in 2013. In early 2016 I moved into the broker market to join the AA as their Product Manager before establishing our own general brokerage in 2018 based in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. To move from a direct operation to the broker market was a big change and challenge but a decision that has been justified. The company has gone from strength to strength in the past 5 years which has been hugely rewarding.
What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about being a Broker?
My favourite thing about being a broker is meeting our clients and building a relationship of trust with them. When an accident or claim occurs, it is a pleasure to assist the client through the claims process and get a satisfactory outcome for them. The quality of cover and rating status of the insurer are the main factors we consider when placing a client on cover which very much comes to the fore at point of claim. The least favourite thing would be not finding a solution for the client despite best efforts. It happens on rare occasions!
What differentiates your brokerage and services from others?
We strive to provide a first in class personal service to our client base. By this I’m referring to a top-class telephony service, prompt email replies and a public office where clients wish to have a face-to-face conversation. In recent years we have seen digitalisation growth throughout the market and whilst we embrace that change its important to remember the clients that have trusted us as their insurance broker since we formed. They remain our focus when making core decisions on our service offer. Offering of a personal service remains a priority for BestCover Insurance and our staff.
Top tip to someone who’s interested in becoming a Broker?
Back yourself! Set yourself goals and bench mark yourself against those goals. If you don’t succeed at first, take a learning from that disappointment and revise your plan to reach that target. Surround yourself with peers and mentors who are supportive, positive and encourage you to achieve your end goals.
How do you switch off in your spare time?
My son Daniel is very active at 2 ½ years of age so he keeps me on my toes in my spare time! Swimming, football and time spent in the playground with him have become the norm in the past two years which I’m grateful for. He’s a great distraction from work. His curiosity and fearlessness at a young age is so refreshing and amusing to be around. Life is too short so it’s important to make time for family and friends. Occasionally I make time for a round of golf also!
What’s your best bit of business advice to your younger self?
The fear of failure can often hold people back from pursuing goals and targets. My advice to my younger self would be to trust yourself, embrace the challenge and ensure to take learnings along the way. Any setback should be used as a learning curve or steppingstone to fulfil your objectives. Sometimes the hard decisions are worth the risk!
What difficulties presented themselves during these challenging times and how did you overcome them?
We started as a greenfield broker in 2018 and had to deal with Covid 19 as a start-up company which was quite challenging. It’s difficult to start a business at the best of times but to come through a pandemic made us stronger and more resilient. We’ve grown the book organically which helped us achieve strong retention rates during the challenging times due to personal relationships we have with our clients.
Moving forward, what direction do you see your brokerage developing over the next five years?
We’ve ambitious plans over the next 5 years. 2024 promises to be an even more exciting year as we’re planning on moving premises in the next few months to allow us to scale the business. Hopefully we’ll be settled into the new office by Q1 of next year which is exciting. We’ll continue to invest in our technology and staff in the short term to ensure we meet our monthly, quarterly, and yearly targets. Our priority is to ensure our upward growth trajectory is maintained and we continue to grow the book profitably. Success is a series of small victories, and we must remember to celebrate these milestones along the way!
What’s your favourite and most used business mantra?
I’ve two: ‘The Sky’s the limit’ which I interpret as if you put your mind to something, you can achieve anything with the right application and mind set.
The second; ‘The world is your oyster’ meaning you can put yourself in a position to take the opportunities that life/business has to offer’.