How SSE transformed its insurance offering

06 September 2017

Earlier this year, SSE’s joint Heads of Insurance, James McCallum and Craig Goodnight, engaged JLT to conduct an extensive 360-degree study of the utility firm’s insurance function. 

Hired in 2011 to help develop SSE’s insurance strategy, McCallum and Goodnight transformed the company’s insurance programme to better align it with SSE’s corporate goals, but were looking for an innovative way to independently validate the benefits of the new approach to internal stakeholders.

Key milestones in the transformation were the streamlining of the main SSE group insurance programme, the creation of an owner controlled construction programme across the business and a focus on developing closer strategic relationships with key insurer partners.

“Apart from the premium change, everything we were saying about how our engagement with insurers, brokers and internally was benefiting the organisation seemed woolly and intangible,” admits Goodnight. 

“We needed an independent review to document how our change in approach was delivering results.”

JLT interviewed scores of internal and external ‘customers’ (underwriters, JV partners and internal SSE stakeholders), asking them to rate the insurance function on a wide range of criteria. 

SSE’s peer review

JLT conducted a peer review, comparing SSE with other multiline corporate buyers on internal and external stakeholder engagement, programme design, data quality and claims management.

The study found that SSE’s engagement had improved markedly since 2011, as had SSE’s performance compared with peers. Insurers and brokers had a better understanding of SSE and were more willing to compete for its business. 

McCallum and Goodnight had also improved engagement and understanding of insurance internally, with colleagues increasingly considering insurance strategically within their decision-making processes. “We now get more calls in advance of an activity rather than reactively,” notes Goodnight.

However, admits McCallum: “We were comfortable with how we had improved our external brand, but more work was needed to strengthen our internal brand. Our challenge had always been to demonstrate the value of insurance. 

“We had done a lot of work over the past six years but needed to find a way to ensure the wider business understood the insurance programme and the valuable role it played in protecting their business.”

JLT presented an executive summary of the study in a simple four-page booklet that linked the evolution of the insurance function to the key financial performance of SSE. 

Detailed survey results were presented in a secondary booklet featuring easy-to-read graphs that helped illustrate the pair’s achievements.

“This report helped us reinforce the importance of focusing on developing relationships with the insurance market and internal stakeholders,” says McCallum.

The report provided SSE with the opportunity to both take stock of the maturity of the function, understanding the aspects of the programme change that were most successful, and also identify areas in which progress can still be made. 

“We live in a world of constant change,” says McCallum. “The JLT report provided us with a reference point which will hopefully allow us to measure further success in the future.”

For further information, please contact Hamish Roberts, Senior Partner on +44 20 7528 4141 or email