Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

From Market Stalls to Fine Dining, Niche Insurer Has Got It Covered; GROWTH CAPITAL

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

From Market Stalls to Fine Dining, Niche Insurer Has Got It Covered; GROWTH CAPITAL

Article excerpt

Byline: Toby Green

CLEAR INSURANCE

Founded: 2001 Staff: 110 Turnover: PS9.5 million Business idol: Warren Buffett -- "He's his own man, he's prepared to take the opposite view from everyone else and he's prepared to not follow the crowd."

FROM the Del Boys on the market stalls to the bigwigs in charge of the City's skyscrapers, Clear Insurance has got London covered. The insurance broker is a specialist in specialism, having found a number of niches to set itself apart from the crowd.

So while some of its staff will be selling tailor-made insurance to market traders, a matter of yards away colleagues could be providing "right of light" cover -- which, for the uninitiated, protects property developers from claims if their new tower blocks the neighbours' light.

"It's a peculiar one but we probably do as many of those as anyone else in the country," says co-founder and chief executive Howard Lickens. "It's a very quirky thing that most people have never heard of and most cities don't even have because you don't go high enough."

Another area of speciality for the firm is fine dining restaurants, with Marcus Wareing among Clear's clients. It is an industry, says Lickens, that very much requires tailored cover rather than just a policy bought off the shelf, showing the vital role to be played by an insurance broker.

"These are proper businesses that need some advice," he says.

"They've got external investors these days, they've got a lot of assets, a lot of liabilities -- they've even got reputational risks. It's not the same as your little coffee shop around the corner."

Finding these niches has been key to Clear's strategy, says Lickens, "because you will fall on your arse if you try to do every little thing along the way".

The company was set up in 2001, a week before 9/11, by Lickens -- who had previously worked at a City broker -- and his two partners.

It was certainly a swift beginning -- from the initial conversation to starting took three months, with it all happening so quickly they ended up with just two weeks to find an office. "Deadlines can be very creative," admits Lickens. …

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