A fresh face in the stale insurance market. That’s how hard-hitting online business publication Bdaily this week described Kevin Gillan, newly installed managing director of US insurance warranties firm SquareTrade, which is aiming to take the tired old UK insurance industry “by the lapels and shake it into life.”

The insurance sector is actually pretty lucky to have fresh-faced Kevin, who was initially reluctant to get involved in such a tawdry old racket. “When I was first approached for this role, I knew it was an insurance firm, and initially thought it wasn’t for me,” Kevin revealed to Bdaily (whose name is presumably some kind of pun on the French word bidet).

“If you think about insurance,” Kev told Bdaily, “it’s not very exciting” and “consumers don’t trust it.” (Has he not read the CII’s ‘Cottage’ report? Does he not realise this is a journey?!) But luckily he quickly discovered that SquareTrade are not some boring UK insurance firm. They’re from San Francisco USA, and, as Kev is quick to point out, “Apple, Google and Facebook – they’re all based out there.”

Bringing their distinctive “San Francisco vibe” with them, SquareTrade are planning to break the UK market through the winning combination of extreme cheapness and a quasi-religious devotion to outstanding customer service. Their reception and offices look nothing like an insurance company’s, Kevin insists.

Kevin, who once worked for Carhorn Whorehouse (2004-2007) and was most recently interim group director of multi-channel with The Coop, has high hopes for SquareTrade in the UK and is aiming to achieve the same kind of penetration as Alcoholics Anonymous.

“I know some industries that just set themselves up not to speak to customers,” he told Bdaily distainfully. adding “Sometimes these companies can be fairly faceless. You could be taking out a policy with a well known retail brand,” he blunders on, “but actually, it’s another company that sits behind it”.

Yes, yes, but would Kevin like to buy some advertising space with Bdaily, or, to put it more delicately, “how is Kevin going to communicate the SquareTrade USP to the UK market?”

“Above the line marketing wouldn’t sit right with the brand,” he says. “It wouldn’t be in line with our ethos, and I’d rather let the customers decide for themselves.”

That’s the kind of comment that can end a meeting quite abruptly, but Bankstone News feels sure that Kev and Bdaily will have found some way of staying friends.

Gillan: a very fresh face indeed. If you ignore those glazed despairing eyes that stifled scream of a pursed-lipped grimacing ghost of a smile.


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