On this day [16 August 2016] 15 years ago, Camargue Underwriting Managers made history by selling its first policy via Satphone at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak. Never ordinary in its approach, this specialist underwriting insurance firm was launched with the single-minded vision of heating up the industry with its dynamic insurance solutions, and this is exactly what it’s been doing since that historic day 19 350 feet above sea level.
Celebrating this anniversary at Camargue House in Johannesburg, the Group staged an event that was a fitting acknowledgement of the many milestones that have shaped the business into the success story it is today.
“It all started with a simple, bold, maverick idea. From the cold snowy streets of London, to the peaks of Killi, we have grown from knowledge and desire, driven by the potential to change the world around us,” said Group Managing Director, Mitch Marescia. “We had the audacity to dream and this year as we celebrate our 15 years, we imagine a future with infinite possibility.”
Tracing the company’s history, like most new businesses, there were times in the first two years where closing the doors became a very real possibility; cash flow and other typical entrepreneurial challenges all had to be overcome. Coupled with this - the start-up opened its doors at the worst possible time – post 9/11 and after the Dotcom crash.
“Starting Camargue and building it into a Group – one that has now has stature and respect in a highly competitive environment is a real highlight; one that never gets old,” said Marescia. “We started out small with less than five staff and today, the result of determined and prolonged effort, 50 staff have permanent positions and contracts with the Group. In excess of 1 300 brokers sell our specialised insurance products and our most recent achievement, Brit’s strategic investment in our business, places us on a new global playing field and part of a large international insurance family.”
Adding to this Marescia said that this growth was no accident but part of a deliberate plan, focused strategy and rigorous attention to the achievement of niche underwriting efficiency.
Recognising at the outset that it would be impossible to take on the big insurance companies; Camargue pursued a unique more sustainable financial business model – one that has become known as the “M³ principle”, and is now synonymous with the company. Camargue turned the traditional insurance model on its head when it implemented its M³ principle – to Manage, Mitigate and Migrate the business risks of each of its clients, through legal professionals, risk managers, arbitrators and risk analysts.
Clearly a sustainable approach many industry recognition awards and affirmations have further ratified the success of this approach. Today, with an extended network of over 400 legal professionals, risk managers, arbitrators and risk analysts, Camargue is well equipped to assist clients with all related business needs.
“The essence of Camargue is built on innovation, big picture thinking and an ability to transform hope into success-centred action,” said Marescia. “
Since opening its doors Camargue has also transformed the very face of the insurance industry through its belief that “Knowledge is Power”. Through its educational programmes, Camargue has worked hard at making knowledge open source to the entire industry.
To help brokers understand that the product Camargue sells doesn’t just transfer risk – was a challenge strategically overcome through the launch of the Liability Academy for Brokers (LAB). Today the LAB offerings include onsite training, national roadshows, eLearning and webinar training. Since its inception, over 20 000 LAB seats have been filled; a huge commercial success that has also contributed to the growth of Camargue.
Another reputational halo is Camargue’s intentional social investment initiatives that by design facilitate meaningful positive change in the long-term. The aggregate consequence of the Group’s collective efforts has resulted in an incredible number of change for good campaigns that have and continue to improve lives.
“Many things have changed since we opened our doors, but our dedication to going beyond insurance never will. With new global partners, we are driving change in the market, and redefining risk across the African continent. We firmly believe that this, coupled with our independent, sure-footed strategy and the bold, fiery approach of our experienced underwriting team, will see us remain the leading provider in our niche market,” concluded Marescia.