To sports fans across the world, their passion means many things. It is as much a serious pursuit as it is a light distraction from life’s more pressing issues. Either way, it always exists within a complex web of endeavour and entertainment.
Going by its vision, few companies associated with the sports industry seem to understand that better than Integro, a global insurance brokerage and risk management firm. In recent years, it has worked to acquire the knowledge it needs to respond to the rapidly changing ways sport is presented in order, as its head of sport Karen Ellis explains, to become the “best sports practice in the world”.
Not the biggest, but the best, a distinction Integro believes is at the heart of building what makes its bespoke service unique. A company that has brought on board a range of people and organisations with an expertise in music, sport, theatre, film and TV to provide a broad service for its clients.
Karen Ellis and colleague Tim Nagle walk the paddock at Daytona
“Most of the businesses Integro look to buy in our sector are considered because of the people and the values and expertise that they can bring,” says Ellis. “That’s what attracted me to the company: the focus on quality and strategic targets over growth for the sake of it. Integro continues to look for quality sport practices that will blend in and match what we achieve.”
In November 2015, Integro acquired Ellis’ insurance firm Ellis Clowes, a brokerage that has specialised in motorsport – specifically Nascar, Formula One, and Indycar – for over 30 years. The move aligned the company with Integro’s growing entertainment division that also includes Stockport based Doodson’s insurance, which focuses on music; and James Davies’ Entertainment Insurance Partners.
“On the music and entertainment side, we cover most of the top bands and performers,” Ellis says. “On the sport side, it’s probably easier to list who we don’t cover! We’re very proud of that.”
Collating all this knowledge and expertise under one banner – and from September, one London office – ensures experience is easily shared amongst each other to create a more integrated platform. That is an approach, Integro believes, which allows it to offer clients a more personal and holistic service.
“Integro is looking to be a specialist market because clients are now much more discerning and they want service,” Ellis says.
“We’re like an independent broker. We work day and night; we don’t close off at 5pm and go to the pub. We don’t have that kind of normal city culture. We’re service-driven and we’ll go to the Nth degree and, in the era insurance is currently in, that’s what sets any broker apart: if you can get people who love what they do and not just like it.”
The importance of expertise across multiple platforms is a value Davies believes is vital in an ever-changing sports industry that is increasingly focused on finding new, innovative ways to improve the fan experience at events; the result of which means that the traditional boundary between sport and entertainment is no longer as pronounced.
“We try to collaboratively work together rather than each individual doing their own thing so there is, traditionally, a cost-saving element, but also in the event of something going wrong, which hopefully it doesn’t,” Davies says. “We’re all working on the same page with the same insurance policies, normally towards the same insurers, to get a resolution together rather than individually.
“I think that is an area where we offer a service or a concept that isn’t traditionally utilised in an area where we can cross boundaries without sharing too much intellectual property information that might not want to be known by the individual stakeholders.”
With governing bodies trying to find ways of aping some of the accoutrements of the National Football League’s (NFL) Super Bowl – with its defining feature of a 30-minute concert midway through a season-defining contest – it seems as important as ever that knowledge in the procedures and risks of both disciplines is essential in evaluating and compiling a comprehensive level of cover for the event.
Integro is the insurance adviser to Cheltenham Festivals
“The main reason we put together Entertainment Insurance Partners was because our client base was changing, so rather than having a strict sports event, we have the experience where we can insure the risks of a concert,” says Davies.
“We have events that are being beamed live into cinemas now, so the filming aspect is very important for sponsors and the revenue generated by those events. So collectively, across the board, we can fulfil any aspect of an event that might have started off as purely a sports event but is morphing towards an entertainment event.”
Sports that are increasingly showcased in fluid ways now require a similar level of outside-the-box considerations. Moulding innovation with experience is what Davies believes sets Integro apart from the competition and makes it best placed to provide clients with a one-stop shop for all their insurance needs.
“We’re seeing more events with sponsored live-streaming attached to it,” he adds. “This involves satellite links where if one goes wrong the sponsor wants to have a return of financial exposure they paid.
“So the reason why Integro has brought us all together is on the basis that we’re morphing towards a more global event and entertainment business. I think that is where we have the greatest expertise.”
The scale of the challenge is an element the company are confident they can always take in their stride. After the tragic events of 9/11, Davies’ Longreach International handled “one of, if not the largest cancellation claim in the sporting history,” when the 2001 Ryder Cup was postponed for a year. Similarly, the company handled the cancellation of the New York Marathon in 2012 following the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy.
With an evolving sports landscape desperate to give fans a “360 sporting experience,” Integro has worked hard to assemble the best possible team it needs to respond and provide the services that can facilitate the most ambitious of sports events. The need to constantly keep supporters glued to their sport of choice – before, during, and after competitions – is a challenge Integro is not only ready for but also passionate about.
“We are a really true sports practice because we’ve been doing it a very long time and we understand the business that we’re in,” Ellis says. “But we’re always ready to go further and do more.”