Cover Story, John Birkenhead , Founder (HJC Actuarial Consulting Limited) – Business Sight’s 10 Most Remarkable Companies in 2020

Reducing Insurance Premiums Substantially, Safely, & Strategically

When the coronavirus pandemic wave took the world by surprise, every industry was grappling with the effects. The sudden, abrupt changes disrupted the normal way of living and business. The insurance domain is no exception to these changes. As the industry has a sound understanding of preparing for major losses, it has not been totally blindsided by the effects of the pandemic. The fundamental changes, however, are mounting as both insurers and customers are undergoing some challenges.

With fear escalating about the virus fatality rate – and whether insurance is actually worthwhile - customers are looking for new insurance (and self-insurance) strategies that will work for them in the new normal. Given this new insight, several organizations are restructuring their businesses for the new normal. This restructuring has led to rethinking some insurances and their worth.

In such a situation, HJC Actuarial Consulting (“HJC Actuarial”) has launched a service to address the issue by leveraging its over two decades of industry experience. InsuranceInspect Services is a new product that helps clients in the current environment.

Backed by proven track record, the company goes through clients’ relevant balance sheet and observes drivers that don’t usually enter the insurance-buying equation, delivering transformational, sustainable, cost-saving results for CEOs and CFOs.

Addressing the Insurance Buyers’ Crisis

The cash crunch has made the business case for purchasing large amounts of insurance with large upfront premiums much more difficult. The government’s prime target – the Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) - is still at 12 percent and might be increased as the government has to pay for the various coronavirus business support schemes.

As a result, corporates (large and small) are rethinking insurance starting from elementary principles. With insurance buyers requiring an impartial, holistic, technically robust approach in finding a new insurance strategy, HJC Actuarial – with its new product –is leading the way towards a sustainable – and affordable – new normal.

For the last two decades, HJC Actuarial has been serving a select group of corporates, reducing their Insurance Premiums Substantially, Safely, & Strategically. Given the current situation, the company has expanded its services to meet a broader audience and provides highly-specialized actuarial services, developing effective solutions addressing current troubles.

By examining a client’s past, future, and core risk metrics – using its’ unique framework – HJC Actuarial’s InsuranceInspect process creates a customized insurance/self-insurance strategy that fits the organization’s balance sheet, therefore enhancing the client’s bottom line.

An Insignia of Excellence

After graduating with a Mathematics degree (with first class honours) in the 1980s, Mr. John Birkenhead – the CEO & Founder of HJC Actuarial Consulting, served in various partnered consulting firms till 2003. Having more than two decades of experience in the niche, he began his own venture and HJC Actuarial Consulting saw the light of the day.

With his extensive knowledge of all aspects of insurance, from working for insurers, consultancies, and audit firms, Mr. Birkenhead has positioned his company among the forerunners in the industry. He speaks in plain English and maintains client relationships over many years. Presently, the company has advised more than 100 clients .

Most of its’ current clients have been with the company for more than 10 years, as its forecasts (of reserves, premiums, and insurer insolvencies) have proven to be right. The clients usually return each year for an annual “actuarial check-up” of their Insurance Buying, which was not even considered before actuarial involvement!

HJC Actuarial tells clients what they need to hear, not what others want them to hear.

“We have a wide-reaching and well-founded knowledge of the insurance sector, providing you with unbiased and carefully tailored advice on what’s right for your company, or public body, with over 20 years’ experience working with corporate entities, large companies, and local authorities, large and small,” asserts Mr. Birkenhead.

Becoming a Perfect Fit

If HJC Actuarial is a good fit for clients, the company helps in saving a fortune for them, Safely, & Strategically. The company has published its’ top 10 messages to clients over the years:

  1. You are buying too much insurance
  2. You are paying too much for your insurance
  3. Your policy is an off-the-shelf policy, inappropriate for you
  4. You can safely self-insure classes of business X & Y
  5. Your insurance company is too weak to be selling that class of insurance to you
  6. High policy excesses are not appropriate for you – your claimants have no security
  7. You have been badly advised by your broker, over many years
  8. You are marketing your risks in the wrong way
  9. Your data is poor and needs cleaning up
  10. Your claims trends are poor and thus you need to market your risks in a different way

Visionary Leadership

As actuarial exams are notoriously hard, Mr. Birkenhead is proud of the fact that – once qualified – he chose a unique career path amongst actuaries, to be on the side of policyholders, rather than insurers. He is also proud of his compliments from clients that “..he speaks in plain English” (actuaries are not usually renowned for their communicational skills!) and that some of his initial clients from 2003/04 are still loyal clients, over 16 years later, as he continues to Reduce their Insurance Premiums Substantially, Safely, & Strategically!

He took his first job in London as an Actuarial Audit Manager at EY, then Partner in a major consulting firm, developing a new consulting business from a greenfield site.

When the coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise, Mr. Birkenhead took the required measures and kept offering services regardless of circumstances, expanding its’ services to meet a broader audience affected by the current issues

“There is one insurance question which is dominating clients’ agendas right now: ‘if we didn’t have pandemic insurance before, should we buy it now?’  This is usually fueled by press reports of companies who already had such cover getting payouts. But this is flawed short-termism: those companies probably have been paying for the cover for many years (making zero claims), plus IPT (currently 12%), and they could have invested the retained premiums. Often, we find that they would have been better off not buying the cover in the first place, investing the retained cash (and saved IPT) over many years, bolstering their balance sheets; a cheaper long-term strategy, thus Reducing their Premiums, Safely and Strategically. We have a unique, actuarially sound, step-by-step process to check if this would be safe for you (and your claimants),” states Mr. Birkenhead.

After spending a considerable amount of time devising the essential foundations before offering insurance consultancy as a solution, the company has built robust, long term solutions for its’ clients, including presenting their risks better, making an easier (and quicker and more favourable) risk evaluation by insurers.

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