Who can believe we’re in December already? We certainly can’t!

As 2021 draws to a close, we thought we’d take some time to look back on the last 12 months. In this article, Suzy Middleton, our newly appointed CEO, talks about the key moments we have seen over the last year.

January – April: Lockdown rolls on

The beginning of the year was pretty bleak, the country was in lockdown and in February more than 100,000 people had died from Covid. That, partnered with the unrealistic expectations on the funeral industry, created a challenging period for everyone involved.

Despite strains such as this, there were some positives during these months. The NAFD team successfully gained access to vaccines for frontline funeral staff, a change in Government approach that SEIB whole heartedly supported. It was a great step forwards in providing operational resilience for funeral teams, and an overdue nod from the Government that the funeral trade are considered as critical responders on all levels.

As April drew to a close, there was a slight shift in the mood of all industries, that normality was on the horizon and we all started to prepare for the virtual NAFD Conference.

May: Virtual Annual General Meeting 2021

On the 14th and 15th May I had the pleasure of virtually attending the Annual General Meeting, and getting a chance to say farewell and thank you to the past President, David Barrington.

The meeting was very well attended and it was great to hear of the progress the NAFD and the industry had made over the previous 12 months, as well as listen to everyone’s thoughts on the new post-CMA funeral world and how regulation will change the way each of you run your business, the challenges of Brexit and the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic.

For me, the speakers were absolutely fantastic and each really did bring something completely unique to the event. Hasina Zaman and her slot on exploring diversity in the funeral sector was particularly thought provoking. Honorary Colonel Andy Grant LLD, was utterly inspiring, his outlook on life and resilience to the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan really put things into perspective.

June: A huge welcome to Kate Edwards, 102nd NAFD President

This would not be a year in review without mentioning the appointment of the wonderful Kate Edwards. It’s great to see Kate heading up the NAFD and I look forward to continuing to work with her over the course of her presidency.

July: FCA regulation of funeral plans

Ecclesiastical Planning Services are a sister company of SEIB, and so we were close to the news from the FCA that funeral plan providers will be regulated from July 2022. Like the NAFD, SEIB welcomes the introduction of statutory regulation given the negative impact of poorly sold funeral plans on both bereaved people and funeral directors trying to service the plans. Regulation will help protect consumers and ensure that they can feel confident they are buying funeral plans that will cover the cost of their chosen funeral.

September: Charitable giving and the importance of keeping this going

The combination of a surge in demand for services during the pandemic and a loss of funding has stretched the finances of the charity sector to the limit. With events cancelled, charity shops closed and face-to-face fundraising impossible during the various lockdowns, there is now an urgent need for income just to cover day-to-day expenses and cash flow. As in 2020, we felt this year more than ever that it was important for us to continue with our annual charity competition under the banner of SEIB Giving. Also, like last year, we relaxed our rules to let the winning charities use the overall £40,000 we gave away in grants to pay for their running costs and overheads.

Our SEIB Giving event in September was a great success (the weather certainly helped!) and we were delighted to include a presentation of the SEIB & NAFD Lifetime Achievement Awards to Nigel Lymn Rose of AW Lymn – The Family Funeral Service, thereby recognising the funeral directing profession which has also been hit hard during the pandemic.

September: St Francis Hospice  

Every six months the SEIB team are given the opportunity to choose a local charity to support for that period. Most recently, we’ve been supporting St Francis Hospice in Havering and in September we were proud to present a donation of to this much-admired local hospice £8,000. A few members of our team also took part in the St Francis Hospice charity mud run, raising even more money for this wonderful cause.

October: NAFD win the UK Association of the Year for the second time

The SEIB team were delighted to hear about this, as we realise how hard the NAFD work to support your members with the important work they do to care for deceased and bereaved people, which perhaps has been more important than ever during the last two years.

October: NAFD Autumn General Meeting

Our team really enjoyed attending this event in Hinkley (the home of Triumph cars and motorcycles) and getting ‘back in the room’ with funeral directors, the team from the NAFD, and other supplier members for the first time in what seems an age. It was good to hear discussions on key topics affecting the future of the funeral directing community, and Georgina, our new social media specialist got to spend time with the NAFD team laying the foundations for a closer digital relationship.

November: NAFD Celebrating Success Diploma Awards

We’re delighted to once again be a sponsor for this annual event and hope the successful students have a great day celebrating their achievements amongst family, friends, employers and colleagues. A huge well done from the team at SEIB to the students who successfully completed their NAFD Diploma qualification!

December: SEIB Save Christmas and membership renewals

As a responsible business we want to have a positive impact on our local community, and so we’ll be covering 50% of the costs for the South Ockendon Christmas lights, and supporting a carol concert at the nearby St Nicholas Church.

The time for NAFD membership renewals is upon us, and as part of your membership you automatically have professional indemnity insurance up to £5 million any one claim, provided by SEIB. Professional indemnity insurance exists to protect you and your funeral business against claims from customers alleging that you have provided them with inadequate advice and/or service. Cover extends to the legal costs and expenses in defending such a claim, as well as compensation payable to the customer as reparation for the mistake.

About Suzy

I started working at SEIB in 2000 and worked my way up from Commercial Account Handler, to Commercial Manager, and then Commercial Director, Deputy CEO and now CEO. Over this period, I have had the pleasure of working with a large number of the UK’s top funeral directors, and not to mention getting to work with the NAFD through our ongoing partnership.

To me, SEIB are special because we really are experts in our fields. We know the insurance industry and do our best to ensure that our insurance policies cover all possible risks associated with this unique trade.

As I look at the year to come, it’s plain to see that the funeral industry is going through a turbulent and challenging period, and our top priority in 2022 continues to be ensuring that funeral directors who choose to protect their livelihoods with SEIB are afforded the best advice and insurance protection. The valuable peace of mind this brings means that they can focus more on what they do best, in the knowledge that we’ll be there to help should the worse happen.

In addition, we’re looking forward to both attending and sponsoring the 2022 NAFD Annual Conference at Celtic Manor Resort & Spa near Newport, Wales in May. It doesn’t seem possible that the last ‘live’ conference took place in Guildford, Surrey back in the Spring of 2019. So much has happened since then, and we’re really looking forward to seeing clients old and new in person, hearing at first-hand about the issues facing the funeral directing community, and considering where we as the NAFD’s recommended insurance providers can help. Our team are also already excited about exhibiting at the eagerly anticipated 2022 National Funeral Exhibition (NFE) at Stoneleigh in June, where I’m pleased to say SEIB will again be a sponsor. This will be the first NFE since 2019 and so we plan to be very well represented across the 3 days of the exhibition, with a good number of expert staff on hand to meet & greet visitors to our stand, answer their queries, and provide sound insurance and risk management advice.

About SEIB 

SEIB Insurance Brokers have an in-depth understanding of the funeral industry and offer an extensive range of tailored products including Business Insurance that includes cover for Buildings, Contents, Stock, Business Interruption and Liabilities, Motor Insurance for Single Vehicles and Fleets, and the Professional Indemnity Insurance that’s included as part of NAFD membership.  In addition, a range of personal insurance products are also available with special discounts for NAFD members.

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has awarded SEIB the prestigious status of being a Chartered Insurance Broker. This status is proof of a commitment to high standards of professional and ethical conduct and continuing professional development and training of our staff. This provides assurance that you’re receiving the most informed advice and support whether getting an insurance quotation, renewing a policy, or making a claim.

SEIB have been operating for over 50 years, specialising in horse insurancefuneral director insurance and commercial business insurance. If you have any concerns over your business insurance, please contact our team on 01708 850000, or email info@seib.co.uk.