UK: Evolution Of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Broking

Last Updated: 13 March 2008
Article by Charles Hamilton-Stubber

Charles Hamilton-Stubber, director of Aon Private Risk Management, looks at how ultra-high-net-worth families and their offices have changed their approach to risk over the past two decades. This feature first appeared in

In 1987, Van Gogh’s Irises sold for a record GBP27 million. In 1987, managing risk and insurance was mainly confined to a family’s tangible assets such as art collections. But 20 years later, this has shifted as families have become more aware of the liabilities that threaten their wealth. Bearing in mind that in today’s art market the Van Gogh picture would probably sell in excess of GBP60 million, what lessons can be learnt for family offices in the future?

Identification of the risks to a family’s wealth has evolved in virtually every aspect over the past 20 years. This evolution has also changed the way that individuals and families look at the risks that they wish to retain and the exposures they wish to transfer to the insurance market.

In the 21st century, most family offices have identified three key areas of risk: the family’s assets, personal well being and liabilities. Some 20 years ago, the latter was not on the radar and families focused on the more obvious assets to insure.

Protecting Your Assets

Theft and damage to art was more prevalent 20 years ago for a number of reasons. Security was not as sophisticated and the disposal of stolen art was more prevalent. Today, police forces around the world link into organisations, such as the Art Loss Register, Trace and other international databases, which have weakened the flow of stolen art. Damage to art has also decreased, for example while in transit, due to enhanced packaging and specialist fine art shippers.

Jewellery was more vulnerable as it was stored at home, whereas today most private collections are generally kept in banks or more sophisticated home safes. I remember when people were not keen to wear jewellery in cities such as New York and London due to the threat of opportunist ‘snatch and run’ thieves.

In 1987, ‘super yacht’ was a term used for a large motor yacht. In 2007 we’re more likely to refer to a ‘mega yacht’. For example, the order book growth for yachts in excess of 50 metres has increased from 24 in 1999 to 106 in 2007, according to The Yacht Report. Over this period insurance premiums have risen as a reflection of the complexity of risks facing owners, such as increased values and liabilities associated with the size of the vessel.

Similar changes can be afforded to the ownership of private aircraft and helicopters. The market has not only grown, for example with large Boeings and Airbuses in private hands, but has also extended as exposure to terrorism brings additional liability costs to families and individuals.

With the property market, we have seen a rise in values and an increase in the territorial expansion of private house portfolios. The insurance market has had to deal with schedules of houses, ranging from central London to Los Angeles.

As a result, underwriters are more aware of the exposures faced by the continued onslaught of natural catastrophes and have become very concerned about their accumulation in certain territories, such as Florida and LA. The size of these losses means that insurers are relying more on underwriting models to understand how best to underwrite those risks.

Meanwhile, country estates have diversified their operations to the extent that the insurance market has had to come to terms with a more commercially minded business.

Protecting Your Well Being

Protecting your personal well being is no longer viewed as purely taking out insurance for health, travel, death and permanent disability. Over two decades we have seen more sophisticated products from repatriation to 24-hour call centres. From our experience the most marked change in attitude is families’ demands to choose where they wish to receive specialist treatments, not necessarily where the insurance company has approved hospitals.

The level of cover and service has very much been driven by the client, rather than the industry. The additional drivers, which were not prevalent 20 years ago, are the attitudes towards security and peace of mind, while at home and overseas. Growing global 21st century threats, such as kidnap and ransom, and terrorist threats, have been influential in the rise of security consultants to advise on how to protect themselves at all times.

Emerging Liability Risks

Certain liabilities have unfortunately raised their heads, particularly relating to the operational liabilities rather than public and third-party liabilities. It was considered an honour and also a sign of support to join a friend or family member’s board of trustees as a non-executive member, but nowadays individuals are cautious to avoid the potential exposure of accountability within that position.

Families are also becoming more aware of the risk of defamation to their family name and the impact it may have in the near future. The cost of reputation was barely considered two decades ago but today families recognise the potential threat to their wealth.

Insurance Industry’s Reaction

Over the past 20 years, the insurance industry has had to seriously re-evaluate how it approaches, understands and underwrites this increasingly sophisticated and professional arena of exposure. The underwriting has not only had to evolve around the intricate knowledge of the exposure but has also had to provide substantially increased capacity for the assets of the families.

One of the most important lessons we have learnt is the need to shift from being an insurance broker to acting as an insurance consultant to the family. There has been a dramatic change from being product driven to analysing the lifestyle and exposure of the family, then adapting the relevant insurance solution around that exposure.

Underwriters have also had to adapt their philosophies towards the types of risks they cover, moving away from standard wordings and carefully monitoring accumulation of risk, particularly in relation to catastrophe perils. Overall the insurance market has had to restructure its approach, sophistication, solution and service to accommodate the diverse levels of cover required across the spectrum of a family’s risk exposure.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions