We do things differently

This year Berwick Devoil Healthcare Limited celebrates 30 years in business. Here its Group Operations Director Caroline Weiss-Jones tells Eileen Leahy more about what makes the company so unique in the world of health insurance…

Berwick Devoil Healthcare Limited (BDHL) specialises in healthcare insurance policies and prides itself on offering a personally tailored service to both its individual and corporate clients.

Established in 1994 by a former PPP (now AXA) employee and her husband, it became Berwick Devoil Healthcare Limited a year later in 1995. 

“At this time the healthcare market was changing, and specialist brokers were few and far between. Yet with so many options becoming available, companies and families needed specific professional guidance in navigating the array of product options,” explains Caroline Weiss-Jones who took over the company with her husband Guy in 2002 and is its Group Operations Director.

“Most commercial insurance brokers and financial services advisors were not interested in providing in this specialist area and so there was a gap in the market.”

BDHL’s main headquarters are located in the former Romary Biscuit factory, which once held the Royal Warrant, on Church Road in Tunbridge Wells. The company is one of a very small number of specialist health and wellness care brokers in the UK.

“We are different because of the extensive range of products we offer,” continues Caroline.

“These range from £10 a month health policies to global ones covering treatment in the USA which start at roughly £1000 per month and upwards. In addition, we offer services and advice to employers on their employee benefits as well as private family protection.”

Caroline says that BDHL prides itself on its substantial knowledge and believes that communication and clarity in the advice it offers is key. 

“We speak regularly to our clients and truly understand their needs. We build relationships. We equally embrace the latest IT facilitators to streamline our business operations, employing things like client onboarding and data etc but when it comes to our clients we are not blinkered in our methods of communication. We feel that traditional methods of contact such as face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations remain the key to relationship longevity.”

Most of BDHL’s client base is predominately anchored in the South East of England, however Caroline says the company has clients as far north as Liverpool and Manchester and as far south as the Channel Islands with employees being covered from Brazil, to the UAE and the Far East. 

“Our private and commercial clients are split 50/50 although the number of ‘lives’ protected on the commercial side of our business is significantly higher,” she adds. 

“One of our commercial clients pays a premium in excess of £1.2m per annum and offers their employees several healthcare products and services such as menopause support, mental health support, dental insurance as well as standard private medical insurance. We have several titled and UHN private clients across the globe. Some of our clients have been with us from the beginning and span 30 years.”

Caroline explains that BDHL’s approach to doing business prides itself on being bespoke. So does that mean clients can access real people on the phone easily, or meet them in person for example? “We alter our methods of communication to suit our clients,” states Caroline. “Part of our unique service is helping individuals when they are having issues getting their claims approved. This can be an exceptionally emotional and a stressful time following a diagnosis so being able to speak to a ‘human’ can be an immense relief – especially when navigating some of the jargon, particularly when it’s the same person that supports the client through every step of the way. This has on so many occasions resulted in numerous referrals due to the service given. Our team will often go above and beyond in supporting their clients.”

As well as sourcing the best healthcare insurance for its clients, BDHL also ensures its own staff are well looked after. In what ways does Caroline and her team do this? 

“We provide our staff with private medical insurance which also offers additional services and perks rewarding for a healthy lifestyle. This can include things like a free coffee every week, cinema tickets, discounts on sportswear and trainers, discounted gym membership and money-back rewards. 

“Our staff also benefit from dental insurance and a cash plan. This provides them with optical tests and a contribution to glasses, additional dental benefits including cosmetic, osteopath, chiropractors, physiotherapy and massages – the latter of which includes things like hot stone massage as well as sports injury and deep tissue. They also are provided with life insurance, income protection and an employee mental health helpline that covers 24/7 telephone support and six to eight counselling sessions.”

The company also treats its team to drinks out, Christmas parties, a summer BBQ, team building events and the odd curry! 

“We really value their input and enjoy their company,” explains Caroline.

Following Covid the team now works out of the office in Church Road three days a week and can work remotely the other two days a week. 

“They also have full access to the office should they wish to escape working from home. The team is predominantly from Tunbridge Wells and with one or two driving in from slightly further afield,” states Caroline.

And finally what does the BDHL team enjoy most about being based here? 

“We love Tunbridge Wells! When we’re working out of the office we do our bit in supporting other local businesses by buying food and coffees. I personally love being able to walk through the town, most particularly the High Street, and into The Pantiles. My husband Guy and I have spent many years here and it is a very special place to us. 

“Over the years we have established some amazing acquaintances and friends, often meeting for the first time at a business networking event and we continue to be humbled by the depth of these relationships and are very grateful for the opportunities. 

“We do a fair deal of entertaining and enjoy seeing the opening of new businesses and the next generation making their mark.”

To celebrate BDHL’s 30th anniversary Caroline says they have a few plans in place. 

“Firstly we have invited a small group from the local area to a celebration taking place at The Beacon in mid-June. We are hoping for a glorious sunny evening when we can raise a glass or two to the past 30 years. At the end of June we have a second celebration in London which will be for a handful of industry colleagues which we shall also look forward to immensely.”

www.bdhl.co.uk

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