After more than four decades in the insurance industry, Kenn Butler, owner of Nelson-based Paradise Brokers, has no doubt about the key to his success: “It is all about people,” he says. “Our relationship with clients is at the core of everything we do.”
He says his perfect business statement would be ‘He tangata, he tangata, he tangata’, referring to an old Maori proverb that asks what is the most important thing in the world: ‘It is people, it is people, it is people.’
Kenn began his career in his native Invercargill and then worked his way through all aspects of the business, with stints in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Lower Hutt and Nelson before opening Paradise Brokers 12 years ago.
He and insurance adviser Carla Glasgow were based in offices on New St before moving in August to the Chamber of Commerce building at 63 Trafalgar St. Kenn is a former president of the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce and served on the board for six years.
He says about 80 percent of his business is commercial insurance, with the remainder domestic, primarily houses, home contents and vehicles – but in these sectors, he says, it makes sense to use a broker to navigate a complicated and constantly changing world.
In addition to insurance for everyday things like buildings, vehicles, boats and stock, the corporate area involves handling more thorny issues such as health and safety, professional negligence, business interruption and liabilities arising in situations ranging from employment disputes to cyber insurance.
Customers just walking into an insurance company office or going online are likely to end up with insurance not necessarily meeting their needs, says Kenn. “People often buy on price and do not fully understand what they need or what they are getting.
“When you deal directly with an insurance company you are accepting they have a generic product and you understand what this product is. However, if you go through a broker to get the same cover, it is our responsibility – and we have professional negligence exposure if you do not get the right product.”
Kenn says insurance is not as simple as shopping for jewellery or clothes, especially considering critically important policy elements like exclusions and excesses. “Insurance is a very complex product and without question, with our professional knowledge and network of industry contacts, we can offer a better deal than people are likely to find on their own.”
In addition, Paradise Brokers takes on an advocacy role for clients when it comes to claims. “You have black, white and grey,” says Kenn. “When things are grey, we go into bat for you. We have the experience to be able to combat the insurance companies, whereas the person on the street does not.”
Kenn has clients all over New Zealand, a couple in Australia and even one in Hong Kong. “My business is the ultimate relationship business. We create relationships with people who become totally comfortable knowing they are properly insured. I am very proud of this, and proud of what we have achieved for our clients”