November 28, 2016

Another week, another thrilling instalment of top insurance reality show Broker Appendix (click link to watch). In this week’s episode the six loveable chancers we’ve come to know so well over the course of their three previous outings are quite literally sent to Coventry.

For it is there, Esteemed Reader, that an event called Brex Broker Expo takes place each year at the legendary Rico’s Arena. At this year’s BBE over a thousand people gathered in a large indoor space to hang around, listen to people saying things, and chat about insurance and stuff.

The challenge for Team Effete and Team Valor, taskmaster Mike Crain explains in the set-up scene, is to attend the aforementioned Brex Broker Expo, come up with “the most engaging campaign to benefit the insurance broker community” and advocate its merits to delegates.

Except it isn’t really! The actual task is all about parting delegates from a round green plastic token supplied to them as part of the Brex Broker Expo welcome pack and amassing the highest total of round green plastic tokens in a see-through plastic box with a slot on top.

The task is quickly dubbed the Waitrose challenge. Why? Because you can play a very similar game if you hang around the exit of the posh person’s Asda blagging tokens off departing shoppers – or at least you can for three or four minutes usually until some bloke in a stripy shirt comes over and tells you to ‘push’ off.

Sadly, neither team has twigged that it’s all about the tokens, and both appear to have put real effort into coming up with their “engaging campaigns”.

Confusingly, following another team-member swap instigated by the capricious Mike Rain at the top of the show, 2/3rds of Team Valor started out as Team Elite and vice-versa, leaving Craig and Shamone as the only contestants still in the team they started out in.

Valor’s campaign involves the seemingly irresistible proposal of cutting Insane Punishment Tax (IPT) from 10% to 6% for insured amounts under £10k, and 8% for under sums under £500,000, as part of a new progressive taxation scheme that sees sums over £10m re-rated at IPT +50%. Finally some welcome punishment for commercial insurance buyers!

Jonny Valor explains that 10% is “an extortionate amount” (clearly, at the time of filming, Valor could not have known that IPT will soon be going up again to 12%). But with Team Valor’s new plan, he says, “smaller clients and people that perhaps don’t have as much money or income can be made more fair and split more equally across the market.” WNTL!

Although whether HMG is really going to want the hassle of reassigning five different grades of IPT every six months each time they put it up again is open to question. There’s also a danger people might deliberately insure their property for less than its worth to keep it below a trigger threshold.

Team Elise, meanwhile have uncovered a worrying new phenomenon in the insurance market and have chosen this as the target for their campaign. It’s something called “under insurance”. Apparently some people aren’t paying enough for their insurance, and then if something goes wrong insurers have to tell them: “Sorry Mate, you didn’t pay us enough money, so we’re not going to pay you enough money.” WGACA!

But Team E-lite have a cunning plan that can fix this problem. This involves teaching insurance brokers to have proper conversations with their clients and do things properly.

Initially both teams stand around on their stands for a bit. This appears to suit Team Elite who are “getting all the attention”. But after a while Team Valor turn the tide by abandoning their stand to roam the exhibition hall, waylaying delegates and getting them to hand over their tokens – for which, let’s face it, they’ve no real use themselves (unless, for argument’s sake, they’ve lost one of the pieces in a popular family board game that they’re hoping to get out and play with over the forthcoming festive period).

Anyhow, it soon becomes clear that tokens are there for the taking, nobody’s really interested in being educated about underinsurance or hearing out illusory promises about sliding scales for IPT, and that – with a 2pm cut-off – time is running out.

Perhaps fatally for Team Valor, Shamone is still out there roaming the halls somewhere with a fistful of freshly harvested round green plastic tokens when 2pm strikes and the passing hipster from Episodes 2 and 3 (who it turns out was actually top insurance journalist Jonathan Swifty-Swift in disguise all along!) whisks away the two plastic box-loads of tokens for counting.

In a dramatic denouement we learn that it was incredibly, incredibly close, with the two teams almost impossible to separate on 109 to 132 round green plastic tokens respectively. In the end it was given to the team with 132 tokens which was Team Elite. Another win for a team featuring charming and personable Dean sees him standing head and shoulders above the other contenders. The bloke must be at least 6’ 2”.

The lesson to be learned from these week’s cleverly devised task is very plain in hindsight – although it took the teams a while to work it out. If you’re going to go to one of these industry events, there’s b*gger all point paying for a stand and then just hanging around hoping someone will come and talk to you. You’re better off just turning up as you are, and doing a bit of good old fashioned networking.

Piece by piece, these apprentices really are gaining the knowledge they’ll need to succeed.

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