Changes afoot at pioneering equine insurance company

From left, Barry Fehler, Suzy Middleton and Bipin Thaker of SEIB present the 2019 SEIB Charity Grant to Roly Owers and Emma Williams of World Horse Welfare.
From left, Barry Fehler, Suzy Middleton and Bipin Thaker of SEIB present the 2019 SEIB Charity Grant to Roly Owers and Emma Williams of World Horse Welfare. © Trevor Meeks

Equine insurance pioneer Barry Fehler is stepping back from his role as Chief Executive Officer of SEIB Insurance Brokers, the company he founded in 1963.

Fehler is moving to the role of Deputy Chairman, and a submission has been made to Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for deputy CEO Suzy Middleton to be approved as the company’s new CEO.

SEIB Director of Finance Bipin Thaker will take on the role of Chief Operations Officer (COO).

Fehler started out as a broker for home, life and car insurance, but after buying a talented thoroughbred and future Horse of the Year Show winner, Princes Street, in the late 1960s, realised there was a need for what is now known as “loss of use” equine insurance cover.

SEIB duly became the first company to offer this, and other, equestrian policies, and to this day is a market leader in specialist equestrian insurance. SEIB is also renowned for its expertise in funeral and private hire, charity and buildings insurance alongside its trading brands Lansdown Insurance Brokers and WRS Insurance Brokers.

“It is very much business as normal following these changes to our executive team,” Fehler said.

“Both Bipin and Suzy have been working in their new roles for a year now and it is the time for me to have a little less responsibility. Bipin is a qualified accountant by trade and originally worked for our auditors before moving to us over 20 years ago. Suzy has also been with SEIB for 20 years, gaining her FCII throughout this time. It is wonderful for them to have official recognition for their efforts.”

Fehler said that it was interesting to look back over the years to see what has and hasn’t changed in equestrian insurance.

SEIB founder Barry Fehler.
SEIB founder Barry Fehler.

SEIB CEO Suzy Middleton.
SEIB CEO Suzy Middleton.

SEIB COO Bipin Thaker.
SEIB COO Bipin Thaker.

“Our original actual rating structure – the percentage of the sum insured for loss of use – has stayed the same and is the one that everyone has followed, but the lifestyles of many of our horse-owning customers have shifted over the years. Back in the 1960s most of our customers kept their horses at home and nowadays the vast majority keep them at livery.

“The number of veterinary fee claims we see has risen, possibly people are able to keep more of an eye on their horses at home rather than when they are at livery – just a thought from someone who has watched the trends change over the years!” Fehler said.

With a turnover of just under £50m, SEIB is in a strong position following the challenges of the past year.

Putting something back is embedded in the team culture of SEIB. Alongside the company’s sponsorship of numerous equestrian initiatives, SEIB is committed to supporting its staff through insurance qualifications and other development initiatives. The SEIB team do a huge amount for local and national charities through various means, from taking part in ‘Mud n Madness’ team events, right through to the SEIB Giving Awards.

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