A veteran of the insurance industry has joined forces with a finance company to strengthen the quality of products and services offered to a growing list of clients throughout New Zealand.
Ram Vashist, Director of Aim Associates Limited, an insurance broker, joined the Professional Financial Solutions Limited (PFSL) Group last month to provide specialised services including Business Assurance to the latter’s customers.
As reported in our August 1, 2014 issue, ‘New Zealand Mortgage Mag, an industry publication, ranked PFSL as the third largest mortgage broker with 276 loans of value $112 million approved during the year April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. The Company, which has been operating from its Mt Albert (Morningside) Office since inception on April 3, 2003, opened its second office in Manurewa on November 30 last year for the convenience of customers in South Auckland (Indian Newslink, December 1, 2013).
PFSL Director Ravi Mehta said that the importance of Business Assurance is not properly understood by many small and medium enterprises, especially those operated by people of Indian origin. He hopes that the tie-up with Aim Associates will lead to increased awareness and assistance.
According to Mr Vashist, Business Assurance includes an umbrella of products to keep businesses safe and running in the event of unfavourable or unavoidable events such as fire, natural disasters, burglary, accident, loss of profit and legal liability.
“Insurance cover is similar to collateral security, which not only relieves businesses from fear of losses but also provides peace of mind, allowing businesses to focus on their core operations. For a small investment, risks can be transferred and insured easily,” he said.
Mr Vashist brings with him 32 years of invaluable experience gained in India, Fiji and New Zealand. His long career at New India Assurance Company Limited enables him to assess the specific needs of multinationals, large, medium and small enterprises and individuals and offer appropriate products and services, and most importantly, provide appropriate advice from time to time.
As General Manager, South Pacific Operations of New India Assurance based in Fiji (2001 to 2006), Mr Vashist played a critical role in establishing the Company in New Zealand (on March 16, 2004). Its presence in New Zealand has not only provided a good option for those seeking insurance but also a note of familiarity for Indian companies.
During an interview that we published in our June 1, 2005 issue following the official opening of the Company, Mr Vashist had said that by and large, Indians were under-covered.
“Many do not feel the need for insurance until it is too late. It is advisable to have jewellery, important documents and precious items in a bank safe deposit vault. Home contents insurance should also be adequately covered,” he had said.
Nine years on, that attitude may be changing, orchestrated by a number of developments, but not to the extent essential to cope with growing uncertainties.
Mr Vashist told us last week that the extended Indian community has tended to save money on premium, which has proven to be dangerous for many businesses.
“However, awareness has slowly increased and thanks to legal and banking requirements, customers now have additional incentives to seek insurance. Many of them have significantly benefitted by taking appropriate policies against business risks, which eventually did hit them,” he said.
The Team photo at Professional Financial Solutions Limited shows Directors Rohit Takyar and Ravi Mehta (back row second and third from left). Ram Vashist is on the front row, third from right
According to him, the insurance market was over-crowded with insurance companies, financial advisors and brokers until two years ago but the earthquakes in Christchurch changed the scene.
“Apart from this terrible natural disaster, legislative changes including the New Insurance Act 2010 saw the withdrawal of many players from the market. Customers have limited options and struggle to understand product details,” Mr Vashist said.
“New Zealand has relatively higher risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and storms, but the community continues to underplay risks and suffer later. A lack of exposure is often cited as the reason, which can be addressed by continuous education on insurance products and benefits,” he said.
Mr Vashist said that Aim Associates offers a unique advantage of understanding businesses to identify potential mitigating factors that can reduce risk profiles and premium.
“We do not hesitate to take up the case of our customers with insurance companies and do not shy away from raising escalations and conflicts when the situation demands so. PFSL and Aim Associates now bring a veritable combination of insurance and financial services including mortgage, accounting, property management, KiwiSaver and more,” he said.
Mr Vashist said that some mortgage brokers refer clients to third parties for insurance who in turn may not have sufficient knowledge or experience.
“As a customer, you should be able to repose trust and confidence in your advisor. This is possible only if your advisor demonstrates the ability to understand your business as well as has the experience of managing issues when actual eventualities arise,” he said.