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John Cahalan, Chief Commercial O cer at FBD Insurance, discusses the challenges currently facing
the insurance body and highlights that what FBD's customers want, regardless of the modern-day
digital approach to business, is a face-to-face communication
Originally from Cork, John has travelled internationally
throughout his career and has been in the insurance
business for almost 15 years, moving to FBD as Chief
Commercial Officer only two years ago. His role as Chief
Commercial Officer is to oversee all business through
FBD's branch network, as well as the company's online and
phone channels: "Basically, I am responsible for all of the
sales distribution for FBD's Insurance and life and pensions
business," he explains. Married, with three children, to
a farmer's daughter, he is keen to state the importance
of Ireland's farming community to the insurance body:
"Approximately 55 per cent of our business is in agri, 30
per cent is commercial and 15 per cent is consumer. FBD
was founded by a farmer for farmers and, today, farmers
continue to be the major customer segment for FBD."
The personal touch
John notes that while the business landscape is changing
fast particularly with digital advances changing the way
farmers do business delivering a personalised expert
service to their customer base is at the heart of FBD's
strategy to maintain and grow their position as Ireland's
largest farm insurer.
"There is no doubting that our customers' patterns are
changing and it is important for us in FBD that we serve
both our existing and new customers in a manner that is
most convenient and suitable for their needs. While a lot of
our competitors are closing their business branches in local
communities, we have found that most of our farming base
like to interact with us directly. So, as long as our customers
want expert personal advice and insurance products
tailored to their needs, we are going to provide this service."
Continuing, he points to patterns of behaviours identified
with buying car Insurance, for example: "A lot of young
farmers will get a quote online for car insurance 75 per
cent of all car quotes will now come online but typically
a parent will come in branch and finalise the deal face-
to-face over the counter. We have 34 branches across the
country and having that distribution is key to the service
we offer. From our perspective we feel that when we speak
about farming to our customers they value a face-to-face
communication system and trust us that we will be there
when things go wrong. This is a trend that has been going
on for a long time; it's an expensive sales process to have,
but we believe it is really important as the cost for our
customers of not having the correct insurance is more
"In our commercial business, we are predominantly dealing
with small businesses involved alongside farming and rural
communities typically agri distributors, restaurants,
butchers, small shops and hotels and, again, that type
of customer really want and appreciate a face-to-face
Focus on farming
The importance of the farming community to FBD is clear,
and the insurance body has rolled out several key initiatives
aimed directly at this group.
"In 2018 we launched a new farm protection programme
to highlight the dangers in farming. We want to educate
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