Unveiling the Trends and Challenges in the Scottish and Northern Irish Insurance Markets: A Conversation with Graeme Sutherland, Regional Trading Underwriter for ERS

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Graeme Sutherland, a seasoned professional and Regional Trading Underwriter for Scotland and Northern Ireland at ERS. With a wealth of experience in both the brokerage and insurance sectors, Graeme brings a unique perspective to the table. His insights and expertise in these regions provide valuable insights into the evolving trends and challenges shaping the insurance landscapes, particularly in the agricultural motor market.

Today, we delve into the intricacies of these distinct regions, exploring the factors that set them apart and influence the insurance market. From the growing demand for value-added services and long-term relationships in Scotland to the price sensitivity and careful evaluation of options in Northern Ireland, Graeme shares his observations and sheds light on ERS' customer-centric approach and transparent broker relationships.

Together, we explore the fascinating dynamics of these regions and the agricultural market as a whole. So, let's jump right in and uncover the key insights that Graeme has to offer, providing valuable perspectives on the insurance industry in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Q: Hi Graeme! As a trading underwriter specialising in the agricultural motor market, could you share some of the notable trends and challenges you've observed in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Graeme: In recent years, the agricultural industry has witnessed a significant increase in costs, posing challenges for farmers and agribusiness owners. Factors such as rising input costs, volatile commodity prices and regulatory requirements have contributed to the overall financial burden in the sector. From machinery and equipment to fertilizers and feed, the expenses associated with agricultural operations have been on the rise.

However, it is worth considering that every industry goes through cycles, and the agricultural sector is no exception. As costs reach certain levels, it is possible that we have reached or are approaching a peak. This could be driven by various factors, including technological advancements, innovations in farming practices, and shifts in market dynamics.

Uncertainty continues to be the watchword, though, and it’s vital for the insurance industry as a whole to support agribusinesses during these times of change. Thanks to our exceptional track record, we can provide stability - carefully manage pricing adjustments and maintaining strong relationships with brokers to effectively communicate any price changes.

Q: How does the insurance market in Northern Ireland differ from Scotland, specifically in terms of the agricultural sector?

Graeme: That's a good question, and there are notable differences between the two. In Northern Ireland, the market is characterised by its price sensitivity. Farmers and agribusiness owners carefully evaluate their insurance options, seeking solutions that provide the best value for their investments. They prioritise finding cost-effective coverage without compromising on the protection they need.

On the other hand, in Scotland, long-term relationships hold significant importance in the insurance market, including the agricultural sector. Building trust and maintaining strong connections with brokers are key factors against this backdrop. It's about establishing enduring partnerships based on mutual understanding and shared goals. These long-term relationships foster a deep level of trust and allow for a better understanding of the unique needs and challenges faced by brokers and their clients in Scotland.

At ERS, we fully recognise that one size doesn't fit all. Our team of specialists understands the distinct needs of brokers and their clients in each region. We take a tailored approach, working closely with brokers to deliver solutions that meet the specific requirements of the Scottish and Northern Irish markets.

Q: Thanks Graeme. And with a focus on customer-centric service, how does ERS address the needs of brokers in the agricultural market?

Graeme: At ERS, we put ourselves in the shoes of our customers. Drawing from my broker background, I understand the importance of providing quick answers and always-available support. We aim to be nimble and responsive, as brokers appreciate the need for efficient solutions.

Being on the ground in the regions we serve is crucial to our approach. While many businesses have transitioned to communicating solely online, we understand the value of personal communication. We believe in the power of direct interaction with our clients, fostering strong relationships and gaining a deeper understanding of their specific needs. By maintaining regular and open lines of communication, we can address concerns, provide tailored solutions, and ensure that our customers receive the attention they deserve.

Moreover, having a deep understanding of the agricultural industry allows us to communicate effectively with end customers, speaking their language and addressing their concerns. We recognise that price is temporary, while service is what customers remember us for. Transparent broker relationships, built on trust and reliability, are the foundation of our approach.

Q: Looking ahead, what do you anticipate as the main factors shaping the agricultural motor insurance market in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Graeme: Cost continues to be a critical factor in the agricultural insurance market in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. While costs have the potential to come down, the cyclical nature of the industry makes it challenging to predict with certainty. As we navigate through the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ramifications of the Ukraine war, it becomes even more crucial to work harder and provide comprehensive solutions that align with the evolving needs of our customers.

In addition to cost considerations, we recognise that the agricultural sector is subject to various external factors such as weather patterns, government policies and market volatility. By closely monitoring these factors and staying in tune with the unique needs of our agricultural customers, we strive to be proactive and adaptive in our offerings.

Our ultimate goal is to provide farmers and agribusiness owners with the peace of mind that comes from knowing their assets and livelihoods are protected.

Q: In terms of broker relationships, how does ERS approach different tiers of brokers within the agricultural motor market?

Graeme: At ERS, we firmly believe in treating all brokers equally, irrespective of their size. We do not differentiate between tiers of brokers. Every broker, regardless of their scale, is given the same level of attention and support.

Our commitment to transparent broker relationships means that we value open communication, collaboration, and mutual trust. By providing consistent and reliable service to all our broker partners, we foster long-lasting relationships built on shared success and a genuine understanding of their clients' needs.

Q: Finally, as we wrap up, is there anything else you would like to share about ERS' commitment to the agricultural motor market in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Graeme: Absolutely! At ERS, we pride ourselves on being deeply rooted in the agricultural market. Our dedicated team of underwriters, supported by the exceptional service levels we maintain, ensures that we remain the first port of call for brokers and end customers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We understand the unique challenges faced by farmers and agribusiness owners, and we strive to provide comprehensive solutions tailored to their specific requirements. Our aim is to be a trusted partner who supports the growth and success of the agricultural sector in these regions.

Personally, I love being part of the farming community. You’ll see me at industry events such AgriScot and the Ayr County Show, taking the opportunity to discuss emerging trends, innovations, and challenges. These events play a vital role in keeping us abreast of market developments and fostering valuable relationships with our customers. Last year I shared my views from AgriScot, and I’ll be blogging from future events too – so do keep an eye out for these!

Thanks so much Graeme – you’ve provided valuable insights into the trends and challenges within the agricultural insurance markets of these regions.

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 Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Find out more information about our agricultural motor insurance here.

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

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