​Introducing Sam Linton, Regional Trading Underwriter for Agriculture at ERS

Sam Linton Blog

Over the past few years we’ve continued to invest in our UK agriculture teams to bring us closer to brokers and better serve the insurance needs of rural businesses across the UK. Our latest agri hire, Sam Linton, is focused on supporting brokers across the North East and North West of England. We recently chatted to her about her new role, her thoughts on the agri sector and why she believes it’s so important for insurers to support farms as they seek to diversify…

How did you begin your career?

I joined the insurance sector just over a decade ago as an underwriter for Rural Insurance. It wasn’t a pre-planned career, but I quickly developed a passion for agriculture. It’s a sector that I find endlessly fascinating, so there’s never a dull moment in the job.

Since then I’ve held a variety of underwriting, sales and new business positions across the North of England, which is great for my role with ERS, as I already have close relationships with many agricultural brokers in the area.

Has the sector changed much over the past decade?

The agri sector is quite curious in this respect. Many farms are passed on from generation to generation and so it can feel like some things never change, but at the same time technology in the sector is always evolving, and many savvy rural business operators have spent the past decade looking for ways in which they can diversify. I’m expecting to see a lot more of this ahead of us – for some farms it will be necessary for survival.

From an insurance perspective, I began my career just after the financial crisis, and it felt as though the industry was lagging behind. We were still in the world of manual processing and storing policy details in filing cabinets! Things have come a long way since then, thankfully.

What excites you most about your new role?

It’s a role that captures the best of both worlds in terms of my experience to date, marrying the underwriting responsibilities with the chance to build direct broker relationships. I think this remains crucial to agri insurance – brokers want relationships with experts, and it will be great to reach out and work with them on behalf of ERS, which has fantastic heritage in this space.

What will a typical working week look like?

These are pretty peculiar times, and most people are remote working at present. Once brokers return to the office, I’ll be spending much of my week on the road getting out there and educating brokers about the full extent of ERS’s offering. In the past I’ve always found it handy to spend a decent amount of time with brokers – for example, working in their office for a day, rather than rocking up for a short meeting and then disappearing again

Aside from the limitations of remote working, what are the biggest challenges that come with the role?

I think there’s growing awareness of ERS across the North of England, but not necessarily a complete understanding of everything that our business can offer agri brokers. There’s a huge amount of knowledge within our agri team, and brokers love having this expertise to tap into, so my challenge is going to be to fill in the awareness gap and bring brokers up to speed.

What do you think makes ERS stand out in the agri market?

I’ve been following ERS’s marketing for several years now as it’s always very eye-catching. In particular, its roadshows last year created a real talking point for brokers specifically the one at Yorkshire Wildlife Park which generated a lot of buzz.

I think ERS’s understanding of the machinery, combined with its risk appetite, also helps us to stand out from the crowd. We’re known for not shying away from underwriting even the highest-value machinery, and this is really important because farming technology is always getting bigger, better and more expensive!

What’s the biggest opportunity for ERS in the year ahead?

I mentioned that diversification within the agri sector looks set to continue, and I think it’s vital that we show our willingness to support these rural businesses in their efforts.

Some insurers are a bit scared of farm diversification because it invariably creates a diversified set of risks too. Many would rather stick with their core competency and support traditional farming operations, while other insurers may be hampered by the restrictions that are in place with their capacity providers. This is where we can really step up to the plate, as our dedicated Agri teams offer a flexible approach to underwriting to ensure they really understand the vehicle use to offer the best rate, we also have a dedicated agri claims team which is a real USP

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your career to date?

A manager once said to me, “Always do what you’ve said you’re going to do.” I think this is vital advice, even if following through on your commitment doesn’t always result in the ideal outcome. You’ll be more trusted and respected as a consequence.

What are your passions and pastimes outside of working hours?

I’m quite the outdoors-y type and, with my partner and three young, overly energetic boys, we love getting out to the countryside or the coast for a spot of camping.

Last year I was lucky enough to enjoy a gliding lesson as a birthday present. There’s a small airfield about five miles from my house – we flew up over York Minster and I was able to take some amazing pictures. I would love to get out and do this again at some stage.

If you weren’t working in Agri vehicle insurance, what would your dream job be?

I think I’d enjoy life as a food and travel blogger, but above all else, I’ve always fancied being the safety car driver on a race track. It’s the perfect compromise - driving the fast cars and circuits without the dangers of racing!

If you have any questions on Agriculture motor insurance, or are looking for support please contact our specialist team on agriculturequotes@ers.com

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