After a previous career in International Sales in the telecoms industry during which Alison spent a lot of time away travelling, she took a 10-year career break to bring up her three young daughters. In 2010, Alison decided to re-join the world of employment on a part-time basis, but found computer technology had moved on somewhat.  Our Director, Julian Hucks, was in a running group with Alison’s husband and had mentioned that he needed some office help, so Alison Joined the SportsCover Direct team as a Sales and Admin Assistant. This employment started with 10 hours a week based in a small office behind Jules’s house, with Jules, Andy Brownsell, and 2 other employees. “I remember it being like a sauna in the summer, and an ice box in the winter!” When Alison started, SportsCover Direct had a limited product range which comprised of the Sports Travel, Sports Accident, and Team policies.

In 2012, the team outgrew Jules’s home office, and moved to what seemed like a vast expanse of office space at Belmont House in Lane End. For the first couple of years, only the downstairs office space was used as the upstairs offices were sub-let to other small businesses, but as the business grew, expansion into the upstairs offices began. Starpeak’s system was still a figment of imagination back then, and policies were processed in ‘Fox-Pro’, with every policy sent out by post! If we continued with this now, that would be an average of 500 policies per working day to post – not to mention renewal letters, payment chasers and more.

Alison’s ’10 hours’ gradually crept up over the years as the business grew, and by 2015, Alison was working full time. As more staff joined the sales team and demands changed, Alison’s job role evolved to Consumer Sales Account Manager. At this point commercial policies were introduced and the Protectivity website was launched. We started with the Personal Trainer policy, followed a short time later by Pet Business. “I can remember the excitement when we achieved sales of 2 policies a day for Pet Business! To put that into perspective, in 2023 we sold an average of 86 Pet Business policies a day – not to mention all the other products that we have introduced over the years since then!”

In 2020, when the country went into Lockdown due to the COVID pandemic, the team relocated to a bigger office, Dovetail House. “It was very fortuitous timing, as by that point we were packed like sardines into the Lane End office – which would not have been good from a virus -spreading point of view!” Once the restrictions had started to lift, the team eventually returned to the office, having gone through all the challenges of working remotely during the lockdown periods. “It was great to have such great office space and environment.”

“Needless to say, SportsCover Direct, or Starpeak as we have recently become, is a very different company to the one that I joined nearly 14 years ago, but in addition to that, the insurance industry is far more regulated. In 2021, it became apparent that as a business we needed to dedicate more time and attention to ensuring that we complied with the many regulations imposed by the FCA, and had tighter oversight of compliance within the business, so I progressed into the new role of Head of Customer Outcomes which was created for this purpose. In July 2023, this became even more important when the FCA introduced new high-level expectations for ‘Consumer Duty’ to ensure that firms put customers’ needs at the forefront of all points of their consumer journey and treat customers fairly at all times. Although we were doing this before, the crucial difference was having to provide ongoing evidence of this across all aspects of our business. This is still very much work in progress, and will no doubt keep me on my toes for the foreseeable future!”

Overall, Alison’s progression and development at Starpeak is a great example of the opportunities employees can experience and aspire to, working for the business. Like many industries, the insurance sector is constantly changing and evolving which brings challenges to the business. However, having a reliable, experienced and motivated team is key to overcoming challenges faced at Starpeak.


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