Stuart, Mike and Suzy from Holloway Friendly on new business strategies and paying claims – MAF162

This week I talk to Stuart, Mike and Suzy from Holloway Friendly Society.

We talk about the new strategy they’ve developed for the company, and how they’re making claims a  focus for their customer service.

Welcome to episode 162 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How Holloway Friendly has succeeded as a smaller business within UK financial services
  • Protection insurance market challenges
  • Putting together a new strategy for business development
  • Showing insurance claims in a positive light
  • Why sharing true stories helps customers
  • How Holloway deal with the claims process

Who are the new team at Holloway Friendly Society?

Stuart Tragheim

The CEO. He’s worked in financial services for more than 30 years. Before joining Holloway, Stuart worked for large organisations in sales, marketing, distribution and technical departments

Mike Taylor

Chief Operating Officer. He’s worked in claims and underwriting for the past 25 years. Mike’s worked on Association of British Insurers and other technical committees and been part of underwriting groups. He enjoys innovating and modernising the customer journey

Suzy Esson

Head of Member Services, looking after claims, underwriting and member admin. She’s worked in claims and underwriting for 27 years. Her passion is claims, and she likes being able to make a difference to someone when they need support the most

Summary of our chat

Holloway don’t have the budget to compete against the bigger financial services companies. However, they’re specialists, and compete in different areas, such as point of claim. They deal with customers and their families in a more holistic way preferring not to compete on price. This is how they stand out in the marketplace.

The issues facing the protection market haven’t changed for many years. More customers and advisers need to understand why they need protection. And then have the means to get appropriate advice. There’s too much focus on supply and not demand. Holloway want to educate the market, especially on income protection.

We need more positive stories in the media about insurance and claims. It’s important to evolve and bring products to life. Many people don’t understand insurance products. Or how underwriting is done and how claims are paid. These are key messages for Holloway, as well as a focus on making products more attractive by being fairer and more inclusive.

Holloway want to share real-life stories of how they’ve touched people’s lives – it’s not just about honouring the policy. That’s the essence of what they do, and they want to make it apparent to advisers and customers that they’re looking for ways to support members to regain quality of life.

Holloway have made changes to their claims management, including the introduction of tele-claims to replace claim forms, allowing them to obtain information upfront, including photos of medications. Members can give explanations over the phone, which saves time and helps reach decisions quickly. Holloway paid 96% of claims in 2017.

Holloway start working with their members as soon as they receive a claim, to understand their needs and give the right support. They often fast track and fund health treatment.  Waive deferred periods And engaged with rehabilitation providers to help members get better quicker.

What changes would the team like to see in the financial services industry?


Marketing messages and plans don’t make a difference.–Consumer engagement is how you bring about change. For Holloway, the focus is on securing trust one customer at a time, rather than running a generic marketing campaign.

The industry needs to be more proactive with the media and the government so insurers are seen as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. There are historical examples of insurers shooting themselves in the foot, and that has to change.


There’s an issue around inclusivity, and some people feel they don’t have access to insurance. There needs to be more awareness and bring the positive stories to life, so it’s clear that these are real people who’ve benefited.


It’s about getting the balance right between automation and the human touch, and make a decision based on the situation rather than the rules. Holloway try to do this, so we reach decisions and pay people quickly. They want to give people tailored support.

A marketing campaign or product the team loves

Royal London and The Exeter, insurance providers have moved into offering life cover for diabetics. It opens up the market and is a great development for the financial services industry.

Another highlight the Marks and Spencer TV campaign for “spend it well”, where they showed clothes and food in adverts at the same time – very clever!

Books the team recommend

A life changing book for Stuart was Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. If you can move from the superficial aspect and internalise the messages, it can change your life. Stuart has kept it close to him over the last two decades.

Links and contact details

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