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Specialist transport and trucking insurance brokerage O’Connor Warren is celebrating 10 years of business.

The award-winning Tauranga-based firm has gone from strength to strength since its establishment in January 2013, becoming one of the fastest growing locally owned brokerage houses in the country.

Founding directors Eamon and Anna O’Connor have helped steer the business which currently has a 12-strong team supporting transport operators and their heavy fleet.

To mark the 10-year anniversary, the firm recently held a celebration with friends and team members at its Tauranga branch.

Eamon says there have been many highlights over the years and winning at the 2018 New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards was one of them.

The brokerage was named Small-Medium Broking Company of the Year after a number of occasions as a finalist.

That year the company also claimed the Young Insurance Professionals Employer of the Year.

Eamon says the success of his firm is all thanks to the transport industry.

“Our business has been built of the back of advising and supporting the transport industry. If it wasn’t for the transport industry we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he says.

During his time advising the sector, there have been some trends and changes for operators to deal with.

Eamon points to the evolution of independent small and medium-sized transport businesses which have had to adapt in the face of larger competition.

A growing number of operators have shifted from offering various transport services to committing to single contracts with large principal transport companies and operating under that company’s banner such as the model Toll, Mainfreight and Linfox have used for many years.

“The independent small carrier has had to adapt amid growth and acquisition by the larger players.

“However, there is still very much a place for the small to medium stand-alone transport business. I believe those that are nimble and creative enough can be greatly successful in this new age,” Eamon says.

As for the business of transport insurance, the market is getting tougher, he says.

“Insurer margins are being squeezed as a result of increased repair costs and a need to write vehicles off rather than repair.

“The profile of accidents and frequency has increased whilst the industry struggles to recruit experienced and engaged drivers.

“Increased premiums and tougher policy terms are being realised. At O’Connor Warren we thrive in such a climate by toughening our negotiations with insurers and leading the market with creative insurance package structures whilst including risk management tools to supplement the offer.”

Eamon also reflects on the last couple of years through the pandemic which stretched his team to the max.

“While many businesses were flat and unproductive during this period, we were extremely busy with transport an essential service.

“We probably have never worked longer or harder than in the Covid period in working with our clients to navigate this difficult period.”

Current challenges such as rising costs are also starting to bite.

“We are starting to see pressure come on with finance and general interest rates increasing. We regularly communicate with our clients that we know will struggle to pass these additional costs on.

“We need to ensure they have as much advice and support as possible. We know 2023 will deliver further challenges for the transport industry with tightening margins, however we remain confident in the industry’s resilience as we have seen over the years when passing through such cycles,” Eamon says.