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09/05/2022


Q&A with Andy King of Hearts First Ambulance

Hearts First Ambulance Service is an independent ambulance service with a difference. With repatriation being the company’s USP, their specially-fitted out ambulances transport patients home from across the UK and beyond. Whether you need to get back by sea, land or air, Hearts First Ambulance Service can untangle a logistical confusion to ensure you get back with care and comfort.

A niche operation like this requires a unique skill set – and a unique portfolio of insurance to cover every eventuality. To find out more, we spoke to Hearts First Ambulance’s Managing Director, Andy King.

Challenges of the job

“There are always challenges,” says Andy, who spent 10 years working for the London Ambulance Service before gaining experience in business and achieving a degree in Business Management and Accounting. “Every day is an adventure and jobs are mostly last minute. The beauty of it is that we don’t know what will happen or when.”

Currently, the service averages more than 175 UK transfers and 18 international transfers per month. One of the 25 vehicles in the ambulance fleet may be needed to pick up a last-minute air ambulance arrival, drive all the way to Europe to bring a patient home, or come to the aid of a travel insurance company who needs someone brought back from America. Every day, and every job, is different.

The ad-hoc nature of the job also means that only a small team of permanent road staff are maintained with others working on a part-time basis to meet the ebb and flow of demand. This adds yet another layer of difficulty to running the service.

And of course, high standards must be maintained at all times. “We ensure things are done in the right way,” says Andy, who buys specially designed ambulances and employs high-quality NHS trained staff to work them. In the past, this has meant that Andy was rarely able to enjoy any downtime. “I spent years with the phone under my pillow, but luckily the business is bigger now, and with a permanent 24/7, 365-day operations management team, I finally have evenings and most weekends to myself and my family!”

Insuring a specialist service

Independent ambulance services in general have complex insurance needs, which can be hard to meet. Factor in the additional risks associated with repatriation, and finding the right protection can become a minefield. 

In addition to all the usual insurance associated with running a business, such as Employers’ Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance, Hearts First Ambulance also requires cover for Blue Light as well as protection for driving on airfields. Fleet Insurance needs to be specialised too due to the need for staff to occasionally drive a patient’s vehicle. 

Arranging such a variety of cover can understandably become a bit of a headache. Andy therefore wanted to have his insurance all in one place. Being time poor and constantly thinking about other priorities made dealing with multiple insurers extremely off-putting.

With One Broker, this is no longer an issue. “It is just one phone call for everything,” enthuses Andy. “It is a one-stop-shop for all of my insurance.”

Andy has also found the business relationship with One Broker Ambulance’s Rob Rowley to be rewarding: “Rob is passionate and extremely knowledgeable about what he does, which fits in well with me because I’m passionate about what I do. We have a fantastic relationship and get on really well. In business you buy from people, not other businesses, and Rob really looks after me.”

As a result, Andy now has all the insurance he needs in one place, from Cyber Insurance to specialised Travel Insurance.

Looking to the future

With his insurance needs continuing to be met by One Broker, Andy has high hopes for the future. “We survived Covid-19 and we are finally back to our pre-Covid levels,” he says. “I can look to continue developing other strands of the business, such as training and logistics, and focus on continuing to grow.”

His passion clearly remains undimmed. “I absolutely love my job – the business is my baby. I love working to maintain our high standards and our quality.” The excitement of a challenge hasn’t worn off either: “The logistical problems are always exciting – it is great to get a last-minute job and come up with an inventive solution to get someone home. I love the challenge!” he concludes.

Need to discuss your ambulance’s insurance?

Contact the One Broker Ambulance team on 01603 218295 to find out how we can help you today.

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