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Meet the MD: Neil Wright of CoverForYou

After fulfilling his childhood dream of serving his country, Neil Wright made his mark in the insurance industry before becoming an entrepreneur in 2011, creating CoverForYou. He believes in the power of keeping it simple and shares his leadership lessons with UMi.

What is it the company does?

CoverForYou is a multi-award-winning insurer which offers genuinely flexible, bespoke cover with zero excess for whatever your holiday – from as little as £4.25.

CoverForYou:

  • Keeps lingo simple and actually answers your call with a human, we aim to answer 90% of all customer calls within 10 seconds – there’s a 24hr emergency medical helpline as well for those in trouble on a trip
  • Makes a claim super easy – in fact, 90% of all claims are settled
  • Rewards repeat customers with discounts up to 20% – one of the only insurers to do this – instead of penalising them with rising annual policies
  • Has a handy new Travel Mate app – an industry first – which acts as a little black book full of local emergency numbers, nearest hospitals, medical translation tools and even a jetlag sleep calculator. Holds all your policy details in one secure place.
  • Rewards you with other savings up to 35% when you’re at home – from food, wine and cinema tickets to hotel bookings, car hire and parking

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

Oversee everything in the business, from analysing each sales channel for trends and reading every piece of customer feedback to see if there are things we need to incorporate/change in the business to managing the financials, cash flow projections and payments.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

Following a 10-year military career that began at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where I served in The Queen’s regiment all over the world, I moved into property in 1985, setting up Property Marketing Services Ltd. 

A decade later, I joined Profession Travel Insurance Company as chairman’s assistant, eventually becoming CEO and growing the company from a captive insurer to a full-service travel insurance entity. I then became Managing Director of travel insurance broker, Primary Insurance Group, which handled claims, assistance cases and underwriting authority for clients like Kuoni, Ebookers and Downunder. 

Both positions paved the way for WIIIS which I set up in 2001, going on to launch CoverForYou in 2011 and Cedar Tree in 2015. My business ethos – transparency, rewarding customers for their loyalty and going the extra mile – may seem like common sense, but these seemingly simple values are shaking up the industry, winning awards and setting these brands apart from competitors who are under fire for their pricing practices.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Praise the work your team does on a regular basis. Being told you are doing a great job is fantastically motivational. Be accessible and listen to the team, they have some great ideas. Communicate, let everyone know the big picture so they have ownership of their role and never dictate orders or lose your rag! 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

To destroy top down structures and build teams, most of our people come from companies that have rigid structures and we need to get them to work for the common good only. We want them to think and contribute outside of their normal roles.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I love being outside – especially in the mountains. Weekends are spent hiking and climbing with my wife. We always have a long-term expedition or holiday planned which keeps us on the straight and narrow when it comes to fitness training. We are planning to go back to Nepal for 24 days this autumn to climb Saribung Peak which is over 6,300m.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Some might say that I have never grown up and still have the enthusiasm of a kid, which I am really happy with. I spent a lot of time playing soldiers so I guess that I did achieve that.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I trust all members of the team to do the best that they can. If they break this trust and start taking the mickey they have to go.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

As a multi-line, online broker, known for great customer service where hopefully our repeat customers make up the majority of our business.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Focus on the most important elements of your business, choose great people and encourage them to fulfil their ideas.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?

That building anything worthwhile takes time, requires patience and you never end up where you set out to go.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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