Chairman’s Statement, Autumn 2013

AIM’s Chairman, Andrew Gardiner, shares his views on developments over the past year.

The weather plays a big part in the activities sector and, together with fruit farms and vineyards, we’ve gloried in the long hot summer, particularly so having endured a cold winter and spring and the wet conditions prevailing last year. Despite the continuing economic squeeze, most members of the mutual have enjoyed increased levels of turnover.

At AIM we continue our growth path, the number of members now being over 380, up from a figure of 340 last year. Many of the new members have been personally recommended to us by the current membership. Credit is due to my colleagues on the AIM board for their valuable input to the AIM success, for which I must express my gratitude. The presence of outdoors experts on the board within the mutual gives us an extra dimension that other insurance providers simply don’t have. My thanks are also due to the  managers at Regis who run AIM very efficiently indeed. They take a close interest in all areas of our sector, as well as the risks and liabilities within it.

Next AIM Seminar

Our next national seminar, which will be wide-ranging, informative and entertaining and will include the mutual’s AGM for members, is due to take place on Wednesday 5th February at the splendid Crewe Hall and I really hope to see you there.

Claims Experience

Despite the cold winter, no member reported major weather related damage to buildings and only a few minor claims were submitted, reflecting members’ high standards of stewardship. On the liability front, whilst there is no guarantee that the past is a reliable guide to the future, I can with caution report that the incidence of liability claims, for which we provide key cover, currently shows a downward trend. The work of people like David Ball, who contributes to this newsletter, and Tim Gill has served to highlight the importance of adventure activity and being less sedentary, especially for the young. Managing the risk is, of course, key for us and our members. On the legal front, Ministry of Justice reforms, which seek to curb legal costs and level the playing field in personal injury claims England and Wales, were introduced in August and should be helpful to the mutual on the legal costs front. However in Scotland a recent report from Sheriff Principal Taylor on civil litigation costs took a less encouraging view, seeing (unlike AIM) no evidence of a “compensation culture” there.

AIM has represented members in Court, successfully defending personal injury allegations on four occasions, the most expensive to the mutual being a case in Scotland. We’ve had one surprise adverse judgment too. The successes are largely due to the ability of the member to provide documents showing what actually happened: risk assessments; staff training; briefing and acknowledgement of risk; incident report and investigation documents and evidence of the exact location. This is the evidence that helped to demonstrate that the risk and benefits are balanced and proportionate.

Post Incident Investigations

The importance of post incident investigation and documentation for lessons learned purposes, as well as for providing evidence to rebut a claim if necessary, is a recurring theme of AIM seminars. It was also a key theme at the Crisis Management Conference we held in Birmingham last autumn. This led to the Crisis Management Service we offer to members in partnership with Pharos Response. Subscription to this service provides an on line audit and a follow up consultation. It’s worth noting that each member audit to date has led to the implementation of some risk improvement measures.

Over the past year, in addition to my role here, I’ve completed a period as chairman of the British Activity Providers Association (BAPA) and a member of the English Outdoor Council (EOC). Organisations like these play an important role in leading the outdoors sector and working to make it easier for providers to deliver the outdoor and adventurous experience in these challenging economic times.

Finally, I hope you will agree that it is vitally important for the outdoor and activities sector to have a degree of influence and control over our key insurance cover, especially with the probability of uncertain times ahead. AIM will continue to grow as a strong mutual, looking after its members and providing a voice for the sector and stability and support for its members.




Reducing your Business Risks in a Crisis

AIM offers crisis management service

Following a successful workshop in October 2012, AIM has launched, in partnership with risk management specialists, Pharos Response, a service to help our Members better prepare and protect themselves for critical incidents that, although thankfully rare, can significantly affect an organisation’s ability to continue operating. Members who sign up to this service can now access 24/7 expert advice in the crucial hours immediately after a critical incident.

AIM is committed to helping to reduce the likelihood of, and better prepare for, major incidents in advance of the possible occurrence. Pharos can be used to help prepare for the situations we all dread through crisis planning, training and simulation exercises, as well as being on call should the worst happen.

AIM Members signing up to the service will receive the following benefits:

  • At the outset, members complete an online crisis management audit which Pharos will review and draft a report which will include recommendations for improvements where necessary.
  • Upon renewal in succeeding years, a similar tool will be provided in order to help ensure that the development of proactive preparation continues as part of Member’s overall management plan.

A number of Members have already taken advantage of the heavily discounted annual subscription, (an average of £100, prices vary slightly according to the scale of operation), particularly valuing:

1. Immediate access to advice and support should an incident happen, not having a nerve-wracking wait for usual office hours to speak to someone.

2. Team of experts specialising in the crisis aspects of subjects, such as HSE, the press, social media, stakeholder communications and trauma counselling.

An AIM Member who recently experienced a serious incident explains why…

“In June 2013 my company experienced its first accident after many years of trouble free delivery. Pharos were available from the outset of the incident and had the expertise on hand to support my company, myself and my freelance staff in dealing with the difficult aftermath.

They provided exceptional support and advice on dealing with the general incident, the media, the family of the injured person and staff involved with the incident and had a number of experts on hand. I was told to ‘think of Pharos Safety as an extension of my team’ and they certainly delivered on this statement. I would strongly recommend to any AIM member to have membership of this service as part of their strategy to manage such incidents.”

Julian Penney, MD of Pharos said “Our experts from across the outdoor industry, and beyond, are on call to help organisations deal with major incidents immediately after they happen, whenever that may be. These sorts of specialist skills may not be present in many organisations or are not often used due to the obvious infrequency of such situations”.

Members don’t have to wait until renewal to get access to this service. To find out more, please contact us.

Julian Penney leads the Pharos team and has a wide range of practical first-hand experience in managing emergency situations, first as an officer in the British Army and more recently as Operations Director of World Challenge.