Microsoft Teams image 93

Navigating Agricultural Insurance: A Conversation with Millie Lamden-Kerr, Regional Trading Underwriter for Agriculture, South West:

We look back over the last three years since Millie Lamden-Kerr started sharing her experiences with us, delving into the complexities of agricultural insurance in the South West and Central England. Throughout this somewhat turbulent period, ERS has remained a reliable source of support for brokers.

Now, as we catch up with Millie, she reflects on how her steadfast commitment to the farming community and proactive approach to challenges have profoundly shaped her journey at ERS. The company's regional commitment underscores its ability to effectively meet the needs of brokers and navigate the intricate landscape of the industry…

Hi, Millie, lovely to catch up with you. Remind us of your journey so far – how did you get started in the industry?

Absolutely, it's been quite a journey! Starting off in claims at Ageas, my curiosity continued to grow with regard to the underwriting side of the industry which led me into my role at FarmWeb. I then worked at rural, where I progressed into new business, trading underwriting and business development management. Eventually, I found my sweet spot at ERS, where I can combine my passion for sales and underwriting, therefore using the technical knowledge I’ve gained alongside the relationships I’ve built.

This combination of the roles has attracted great feedback from the market, as we’re able to really understand our customers’ needs and can make decisions. It's a great team at ERS and we work collaboratively. I spend lots of time with our operations team in Swansea and we constantly exchange insights to enhance our service.

How has your connection with the farming community influenced your approach to agri insurance in the South West and Central England?

I live in Cheltenham, I’m originally from rural Herefordshire and am from a farming family myself, so being part of the community isn’t just a professional tie, it's a personal commitment. Understanding farmers’ day-to-day challenges, from unpredictable weather to market uncertainties, means that we can deliver the right services for our brokers and their clients, at the right time.

We’ve been in unprecedented times for farmers recently, due to Brexit, climate change and energy costs. And this hasn’t just been the case in the South West but up and down the country too – and that’s led to farmers needing to diversify. We’ve seen lots of farms develop their land and outbuildings into gyms, shops, parks, activity centres and outdoor pursuits, to name just a few examples. This reliance underscores the community's ability to innovate and my role at ERS allows me to be a supportive partner in their journey.

How has your role evolved over the years, especially with regard to how ERS has supported brokers and farmers in the face of these new trends?

The role is always evolving, therefore I believe it is important to understand the specific needs and concerns of brokers and their clients. In order to support brokers, we need to have industry knowledge in the agricultural sector, communicate effectively, act with integrity and adapt to the changing landscape in farming. ERS's flexibility and diverse underwriting appetite have allowed us to navigate the complexities of diversification. Concentrating on being a motor-only insurer has also enabled us to focus on the unique needs of our clients and offer specialised support.

The fact that we’re on the ground in the region is also very important. It means that we develop personal relationships with brokers. What excited me about ERS is that their underwriting appetite mirrored my own. Our stance is to keep cover simple, flexible and to find a way to write the risk, rather than not write the risk. This means that we’re able to take on fleets that others cannot and that we can work with brokers to meet their needs.

Looking ahead, what are the ongoing challenges for farmers and how do you tackle those?

The largest influence on motor premiums has been the impact of claims costs increasing and, although inflation peaked at 11.1%, individual claim costs also rose, some even to above this level. For example, there was a 12% increase in windscreen costs (60% of production costs down to energy), 15% in car parts and 20% in care costs. This was due to many different factors, including operating expenses, energy prices, the pandemic changing the way we work and the rise of shipping costs.

As an insurer, we need to reflect the market increases; however, we are committed to supporting our farmers and look at every risk on its own merit. We are not here to just drive new business but to look after our existing customers too. For example, if we took on a farmer with historically poor claims, but they have improved with us or had no claims over three years, we would look to rerate this accordingly and have their premiums reflect this.

Loyalty and trust are extremely important, which is why we have had policies on our books since 1970. We are here to provide tailored solutions to address specific risks. To assist in the process of claims, we have produced a handbook that I recommend all brokers send to their clients, at renewal or to new business, to ensure that when an unfortunate incident occurs, it can be handled as seamlessly as possible.

Thanks so much, Millie. And finally, let’s look beyond professional endeavours. What passions and pastimes have kept you inspired and energised over the past years?

Outside of work, walks with my ever-enthusiastic spaniel, Buddy, which many of my brokers have probably seen! I really enjoy going to the races and, living in Cheltenham, we’re lucky we have one of the best festivals there has to offer.

Having grown up on the Herefordshire border, I am also a big rugby fan. Some say Christmas is the best time of the year, but for me it’s Six Nations, and this weekend’s quarter finals of the World Cup provided some of the best rugby I have seen in ages! I also love hosting dinner parties; there's something special about bringing people together over good food and conversation. It's a great way to unwind and connect with friends.

Thanks, Millie, for sharing your insights and experiences with us. It's been a pleasure catching up and gaining a deeper understanding of your journey at ERS.

As the agricultural market continues to evolve, ERS remains dedicated to providing reliable and comprehensive insurance solutions, ensuring the protection and peace of mind of farmers and agribusiness owners in Wales.

Find out more information about our Agricultural motor insurance here.

For any Agricultural motor enquiries, contact our team on 0345 600 2284 or

< Previous StoryNext Story >