Discussing contents insurance with new residents – Sovereign’s story

Sarah Randall, 23 September 2021

I’m just about to celebrate 17 years at Sovereign and it’s fair to say over the years I’ve seen too many customers devastated by the impact of fire, storm, flood, and other similar incidents, as they lose their treasured possessions and see no easy way to replace them.  

Historically, discussing contents insurance has been undertaken by housing officers at the tenancy sign-up. But we all know that at that point customers just want the keys to their new home - to get in, get settled and get the kettle on - and something like home insurance is one of the last things they’ll be thinking about.

In fact, in 2016, we conducted research that showed that around 60% of our customers didn’t have home contents insurance. This meant that when things went wrong, hundreds of people were left trying to find the money to replace their belongings.

Residents often have to rely on family, friends and sometimes charities to replace their worldly possessions. Or, they were trying to make a claim off our public liability insurance which can be a lengthy process and not always a successful outcome for the customer.

This is why we decided to rethink our approach to promoting home contents insurance and began working with Thistle, the company that administers the ‘My Home Contents’ Insurance Scheme, by introducing the call back service to customers.

To combat the ‘first day distraction’, our customers can request a call back from Thistle by completing a short form on our portal, with a preferred contact time at any point on their housing journey with us. We can also request a call back with our customers’ permission  when they’re viewing a property, at their tenancy sign up, when they’re talking to their property manager or during any other contact that we have with them.

The call back service makes it quick and easy. Customers don’t have to complete any long application forms and can talk through any questions they may have. They can decide if they want to sign up over the phone, or if they want to receive further information from Thistle directly.

For housing associations, requesting a call back for our customers means we don’t have to worry about carrying around bulky application packs like we did in the old days. If we can encourage customers to consider taking out home contents insurance, we can also feel confident that we’ve done all we can to support them to be ready and covered, should the worst happen and there’s a need for them to make a claim. Since we’ve introduced this service, the take up has doubled and the feedback from our staff and customers has been positive.

My top tips:

  • Make it accessible, use as many channels as possible to promote home contents insurance and the call back service both internally and externally.
  • Make sure all of your employees know about the scheme that your customers can apply for, don’t just rely on your Housing team. Our Property Services and Contact Centre teams also talk to customers about the service too. All our employees can have the form on their mobile devices, which means they can access it at any time.
  • Make it easy for your customers to apply, keep the call back form simple and give them the option of a preferred time of day to receive the call.

To learn more about how the My Home Contents Insurance scheme can support your residents, contact Sally Alvey, Schemes Manager or visit the website.

The National Housing Federation is an Appointed Representative of Thistle Insurance Services Ltd. Thistle Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 310419. Registered in England under No. 00338645. Registered office: Rossington’s Business Park, West Carr Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire, DN22 7SW. Thistle Insurance Services Ltd is part of the PIB Group.