Honestly, what does one really mean by that? Well, quite simply, is it Word of Mouth or its Digital Age cousin, viral marketing, that has seen Pantaenius not only grow, but also begin to make a significant impact in Asia Pacific waters?
No doubt, the all-risk policy, agreed fixed value, new for old replacement and wear and tear clauses have had a major play in the whole equation, but when it comes to growth, nothing succeeds like success.
So how do you measure success then? Is it inquiry rates? Perhaps it is the conversion of those prospects into clients. Most likely, but then standing atop there is that marketer’s holy grail. It’s just about as elusive as when Indiana Jones had to make his ultimate choice inside the Temple of the Sun. Now in nautical terms it is like the keel made from unobtanium. Yes. That would be the old word of mouth.
Part of the Pantaenius Australia team - Lto R: Adam Brown, Michelle Rathgeb and Jamie MacPhail. - John Curnow ©
We’re talking about your Brand Ambassadors and they are not even on the payroll. No matter if it is after a couple of sherbets at the bar, or across the pen as you do any of those never-likely-to-be-five-minutes-jobs-around-a-boat tasks (and say that after a couple of attitude adjusters), people are talking about Pantaenius.
But alas, enough of such frivolity. What are the tintacks in question here? To do that, we caught up once again with Pantaenius Australia’s Managing Director, Jamie MacPhail. 'There are a few distinguishing elements that have really allowed Pantaenius to stand out.
1. Pantaenius is the only marine insurer in Australia with an All Risk Policy. What this means is that everything is covered, bar a few exclusions, not the other way around. As a result, our policy documentation is much simpler, shorter and easier to understand. The advantage we own is that we have got a true marine insurance policy. One that has been written by experienced marine people for the marine industry. The Pantaenius policy document has been written specifically to cover yachts and cruisers in the pleasure boat market. More importantly, it was written by people with a combined four hundred years worth of experience in the industry.
2. Pantaenius is the only insurer that exclusively insures an Agreed Fixed Value. In short it means the number on the front is the one you’ll get paid in the event of a total loss. It all comes from a business that started writing the world’s first ever, agreed fixed value policy specifically tailored to the pleasure boat market, way back in 1963.
Sole cruising vessel at anchor in the tropics. - John Curnow ©
3. Worldwide coverage and support is another unique Pantaenius specialty and really the item that most people may have known us for originally. As a bonus, an Australian policy can automatically receive a trans Tasman extension. Quite the popular request at the moment is for cover into Asia and the Pacific, especially for yachts over $300,000 and powerboats over say $700,000. It’s a fifth to a quarter of the market, so it is very extensive and again, our simple, designed from the water up policy means that we cover what no one else can, or if they can it’s likely an unusual, thrown together policy document that has inherent holes in it and started life as a document that insured super tankers.
4. New for Old replacement is available to many when constructing your policy. This means that for claims for parts of the vessel, you will receive new items, not second-hand equipment to go back on board.
Out the front door and straight onto the boat. Good one! - John Curnow ©
5. Pantaenius covers wear and tear to your craft, if it is less than six years old or maintained in Bristol fashion. There is some detail that goes into the explanation with that, but it basically means you won’t be left carrying the can if something breaks or fails and subsequently causes a major disaster. We’re more than happy to sit down and walk through this or any other item with our potential customers whenever it suits them.'
So we have seen the items that have been responsible for the success, but what of the quantum. The first element is the conversion rate, which Jamie indicates is way ahead of expectations. 'When we get to really talk with a customer it’s as high as 80%. So for an insurance company in our space after just 12 months of operation, that is really very pleasing.'
Where there was once a gap in the Pantaenius map, the new Australian office has not only filled it, it has also provided many an insight into the way to build a loyal and happy client base.
'Pantaenius’ Australian office has provided both the location and a platform to step specifically into the Asian market. A fair proportion of our business is outside Australian territorial waters. It’s a mix of Australians buying and sailing their boats in Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific, as well as a growing mix of Australians who are already in Asia or intending to cruise there, along with those about to buy boats and then go to Asia. This is a great arena for us and definitely part of why our share of Australia’s luxury boat market is really growing.'
A Megayacht glides along effortlessly in the sun - as it should be... - John Curnow ©
Around the globe, the group is quite clearly getting stronger too, as there are now over 80,000 clients. 'The number of clients insured and the subsequent premium base continues to grow strongly for Pantaenius worldwide, which we believe is a bit unique in this market, particularly with the GFC in the last three and a half years. We have seen, particularly in Europe and the USA, a huge downturn in terms of boat sales and participation, but Pantaenius has actually seen a growth in both of these markets. Our business model, which is to work with a panel of insurers, provides for good risk diversification and delivers financially robust products. In the end, it is all about getting your claim paid', said MacPhail.
The desire for people in the greater marine sphere of interest to seek knowledge, whether it is news, product information or other services online is already the significant majority and still growing. Combine this with the unique Pantaenius offering with easy to comprehend material, along with the fact that the medium allows for more space and detail to cover things off than traditional delivery systems, and you see why there are such a high proportion of direct clients in the Pantaenius mix.
'Australia is a little bit different as we put a huge focus on dealing directly with our customers, whether it is at the prospect phase or a claim from a client. With Pantaenius Australia, the person who sells you the policy is also the one who handles any claim you may have.'
A large Nautor’s Swan demonstrates what grace is all about. - John Curnow ©
'Our relationship with Sail-World, Powerboat-World and all the other TetraMedia sites has been very successful because they are the places that boat owners go to read the news and pick up ideas and information on products and services within the industry. The group’s sites have contributed very significantly to the enquiry rate that we get directly from customers and without that direct relationship to customers, our ability to sell our product, which is unique, is very difficult because it takes time to explain the differences with our all risk policy and more people find out about us from WoM and viral and start understanding why we are different. All in all, this is how our conversion rate increases.'
Apart from having their unique product that really is the only one policy for true global cover, there is one other item that has contributed significantly to the huge amount of Pantaenius WoM that goes on around the globe.
'Word of mouth worldwide has given us an exceptional record in terms of handling claims. This is our best referral vehicle, as it comes from people who know us, met us, are insured with or who have been close to significant natural disasters like Hurricane Ivan. Ivan is a good case in point. If you Google ‘Pantaenius/Hurricane Ivan’, you will find out that Pantaenius not only managed it’s own claims but also those for many of our competitors. Pantaenius even hired it’s own cargo ship to transport damaged yachts to available repair facilities outside the Caribbean.'
'Here in Australia, we take a lot of calls from people who all comment, ‘We believe you are the people to deal with, because if we have got a claim at least you will pay out.'
Sportsfishermen lie at anchor after a big day tagging sailfish. - John Curnow ©
Looking to the positive, MacPhail went on to add, 'At least with us there not multiple people involved in managing their claim. The person that sold them insurance is the first point of contact when they bring their claim. Adam Brown is now leading claims management. 'Australia is a little different to our other Pantaenius offices worldwide. Our mix of direct client versus broker business is much higher. The group is very happy with what we are doing. From the claims we have already processed, it is pretty evident to us that most of the people are pleasantly surprised. They are not used to being treated the way we handle the claims process. They are telling us that for them it is not like previous times when they had to say to themselves, ‘I think I am insured, I have paid my money, but now I have got to find out whether I am really covered or not.'
'The Pantaenius claims system is fundamentally different. You are talking to the people who make the decisions, not some obscure third party or loss adjuster that you have never met, who could well have had their career on supertankers. You are dealing with someone who actually knows what a yacht looks like, knows what happens when they sink and has reasonable experience when it comes to understanding the value of the claims, along with the components and everything that goes into it.'
'Tell me you get that with many loss adjusters that turn up to work on claims for other people. If you have a claim with another company and it ends up going to a loss adjuster for assessment, the chances are the loss adjuster could be a person who cut their teeth in the auto trade, or maybe on ships cargo! It may not have been the case as little as five years ago, but it certainly is now, so if you know enough about claims to know who you would rather go with, then it really is time to start talking with Pantaenius,' said MacPhail.
Hard core blue water racing. - John Curnow ©
It all seems to make sense, whether you’re a global cruiser, family day sailor, mad keen blue water sportsfisherman or mega yacht owner. So if you’ve got the virus or been given the nod in a friendly chat with another owner, then it could well be time to see what all risk means for you. It may not be for everyone. Nothing ever is, but don’t you owe it to yourself to find out why so many are talking about Pantaenius?
Just a bit of Q&A could well save you a lot of stress and a whole heap of money later on, which would be exactly at a point when you do not have the time or the inclination to deal with either. See www.pantaenius.com.au
or call +61 2 9936 1670.