The world of insurance is viewed by many as a somewhat necessary evil, with few thinking about it until something goes wrong. Kevin Galea Pace, Managing Director of Antes Insurance Brokers, is himself the first to acknowledge this. He also believes that this is precisely why the role of an insurance broker is so crucial, as it can make all the difference to what happens next.
“Using an insurance broker isn’t necessary for everyone. How you buy insurance is a personal choice. But, in the same way one would use a lawyer or accountant for professional advice, a good insurance broker can explain what an insurance policy covers and what it does not in a language that one can understand. Let’s face it, finding the right insurance cover at the right price is time-consuming and complicated,” Kevin starts off.
“Most people, including many businesses, don’t have the time to do this and simply end up purchasing insurance only to understand the value of what they purchased at the time a claim is made. And this is where the bulk of our responsibility, as insurance brokers, comes into play as we’re there to help you find the right insurance cover and more importantly that any valid claim is paid quickly and fairly.”
For those who are still unclear about the distinction, an insurance broker’s role is unlike that of the actual insurer. While the insurance company is the one that takes on the risk and shoulders the claim, a broker has a legal responsibility to provide advice on what the market can offer and the differences in so far as cover, premium, and conditions are concerned.
“We are there to protect the client and our responsibility doesn’t only lie in selling the contract, but in ensuring that the customer is satisfied with what comes after,” he explains.
Kevin is certainly well-placed to explain the intricacies of the insurance world. With more than 40 years’ experience in the industry, he started working in Australia at the age of 18, and on his return to Malta, joined one of the leading local insurance companies. It was clear from the start that Kevin had a passion for business, and it seemed only natural that he ventured into setting up his first business in insurance broking.
Since then, the business continued to thrive together with various other ventures he invested in.
“Over the next 20 years, my partners and I built FirstUnited into one of the leading insurance broking businesses, which we eventually sold to Argus Group Holdings, a financial services group domiciled in Bermuda,” he says.
Kevin agreed to stay on to lead the business during the initial years of transition and to implement a clear strategic plan to merge FirstUnited with Island Insurance Brokers (another broking firm owned by Argus Group) into Antes Insurance Brokers who are today an established market leader.
“Looking back, I knew all those years ago that setting up my own business was one of the best decisions I ever made. Since the founding of Antes, our company now employs around 80 people and continues to grow year on year” he tells me.
The company has certainly put its new reach to excellent use, building on Kevin’s commitment to place customer service at the heart of its operations.
“When I started out in the profession, I quickly understood that insurance is based on contract and law and how important it was to understand the technical side of the business. But even more importantly, I also learnt the values of trust, integrity, and reputation. I firmly believe that you can’t build meaningful business relationships if people don’t trust you, and I continue to work hard to instil these values throughout the company,” he explains.
Since the merger was successfully finalised in September 2021, Kevin is implementing a clear road map to build and sustain growth locally and outside of Malta. This includes strengthening a company culture where both customer and employee experience is at the forefront of everything they do, while promoting industry change.
“We are fully committed to doing this and part of this roadmap includes the relocation of our business to a new, purpose-built office that is equipped with all amenities and the environment to create a better work-life balance for employees,” he discloses.
The recent culture shift in managing customer and employee expectations has not gone unnoticed, and Kevin mentions a hybrid working model, hot desking, and other employment trends that became prevalent after the pandemic.
“We carried out internal research within the group and 85% of employees prefer a hybrid situation, rather than working fully remotely, or fully office based. We are also working hard towards a more sustainable operating model to create a paperless office environment.”
On the technical side we are looking to launch, a new IT Broking Platform which we have sourced from a leading software supplier operating throughout the UK and the EU. This, Kevin believes, will support the introduction of innovative products and services that will have a positive impact on customers.
“The largest percentage of our business is focused on corporate and advisory services. We have considerable expertise and have built our reputation in this area, and do business with government, NGOs, industry, maritime and aviation, private partnerships, and other commercial entities. We are confident that the new IT system will help us improve our service delivery and improve customer experience in general” he explains.
“We want to empower our clients and believe this innovative IT System will help us do this. The changes we’re working on will not only have a positive impact on Antes but will also serve as a blueprint that can be scaled and replicated in other territories,” he adds.
One of the biggest advantages Antes enjoys as part of a bigger group with a presence in Bermuda, Canada, Gibraltar, and the Caribbean is that the company has an affinity for doing business in island states. This is where Kevin really sees huge potential for growth.
“Following a similar template will undoubtedly enhance collaboration and introduce an alignment to the working processes throughout the brokerage division of the Group. Moreover, Argus has made several strategic acquisitions over the last few years, and we are actively exploring other opportunities both locally and internationally. These are exciting times not only for me, but also for our customers and for everyone working at Antes.”
His goal before retirement and possibly exploring other business opportunities?
“I want to leave the business in the strongest position it’s ever been in. We have a number of objectives to reach and I will be here to make sure these are implemented in the best way possible. After that? We will see,” he concludes with a smile.