National Insurance Brokers was established just six years ago, in 2018. But, in that short time, its Founder and Managing Director, Judith Galea, has steered the firm to expand, opening four branches which serve clients across towns nationwide, as well as head office specialising in the commercial insurance sector.

Judith Galea possesses an energy that is infectious. The Founder and Managing Director of National Insurance Brokers, which she set up six years ago – the culmination of decades of experience in the sector – attributes the company’s buoyant growth to her unwavering determination to never stand still and to “never give up”, as she asserts. “I get involved in a lot of things and, as Managing Director, I take a very hands-on approach, since I like to keep in touch with clients – they motivate me. So, as you can imagine, my mobile doesn’t stop all day,” she laughs.

Judith began her career as a young, single mother and, perhaps, this dynamic start set the tone for the years that followed. “I became a mum at 17, yet I had the energy and the drive to study. I’m a very ambitious person, and I wanted to build a career.” She started working in the insurance sector just one year after giving birth, at Allcare Insurance Agency, when the firm was still a small, five-person team.

Judith proved to possess a natural affinity for the sector. “When you work in insurance, there’s no set routine. It’s a very vast subject and you need to stay updated; you need to keep on learning. Every case and every risk is different, so my days are filled with lots of different scenarios, diverse claims and requests. I never get bored in insurance and I love meeting clients, so that’s always been the highlight of my day. I’m very much a people-person,” she says.

Over the years at Allcare, Judith proved herself in every department across the agency, taking exams to further her qualifications in insurance until becoming an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute UK, and eventually becoming CEO when she was just 30 years old – all while bringing up her son, who was joined by another boy a few years later. “I sat one of my exams a week before my second son was born,” she recalls. Yet, even while those early years were challenging, Judith held the reins tightly and, as CEO, oversaw Allcare’s transformation into one of the island’s largest agencies and, later, its evolution into a fully fledged insurance company.

Never one to rest on her laurels or slow down, Judith made a move to MAPFRE Middlesea, where, after four years, she became the Chief Officer of the Commercial Department, handling high-profile clients for the company. Then, in 2018, she decided to branch out on her own, establishing National Insurance Brokers to fill a niche in the market – that of providing access to all the possible insurance solutions both in the local and international markets, thereby prioritising clients’ best interests and offering tailored insurance solutions.

“Our primary goal is to help and understand the client – even in the claims process, for instance – as well as, essentially, handling all their insurance requirements,” she shares. “As a brokerage service, we can do this because we provide the best solution that represents our clients’ interests, rather than simply offer them products we have in-house, which is what an insurance company would do, or a product they represent, which is what an agency would do. We operate as an extension of the client but possess knowledge of what’s on offer across insurers. This helps us cater for more complicated scenarios, as well as be a trusted partner to our long-standing, and loyal, clients.”

Today, the brokerage firm – which started from Judith’s kitchen table – boasts 24 employees, spread across a head office in Santa Venera, as well as four branches in Rabat, Birkirkara, Marsa and, as of last year, Ħal-Għaxaq. “The profile of each office is different. Our head office caters mostly for our large commercial clients, such as hotels, contractors, marine risks, and other businesses. The branches, on the other hand, mainly cater for individual clients, and focus more on home and motor insurances. This demarcation of roles has supported our growth, since it’s helped us to ensure a targeted and personalised approach,” she explains.

However, National Insurance Brokers has also been moulded in the image of Judith herself, with her values permeating through the firm. “Work is personal. I believe, in business, we must have honesty, integrity and trust. This is vital for us, working in this sector, since insurance isn’t something tangible. Thus, I need my clients to trust us to act in their interest. We’re always by our clients’ side. Much like myself, my team places a high value on honesty and integrity – we’re honest with those we’re working with. We tell them the truth, even if it doesn’t suit us and this has always paid off.”

Indeed, as a business leader, Judith insists that you should “never just look at the bottom line, since you can miss a lot.” This approach has led to company growth: “we’ve grown, not through advertising, but through word of mouth and client referrals,” the MD attests.

Last year’s results were, consequently, “better than projected”, even though the market was tough. “Since COVID-19, it’s been much harder to operate in the insurance business, since insurers are being more selective about the risks they take. Premiums are increasing considerably and, yet, we have an obligation to present our clients with a better deal once their contracts come up for renewal. And this is what we’re committed to doing.”

Moreover, the health of the company can also be attributed to the diverse markets it’s expanding within, including marine insurance products, covering not only small pleasure crafts, but also commercial and larger passenger vessels, specialised marine risks and crew risks. “This is a very complex line of business and, despite our connection to the sea, the local market is very limited, principally catering to smaller boats. As an island, the sea is integral to our operations, so this sector is growing. However, it presents more convoluted sets of risks, which may require a combination of solutions – some of which might not be available here in Malta. This is where we come in, since we’re able to source what’s needed from abroad.”

Judith also credits the growth of the firm to her staff, whom she describes as “the biggest asset the company possesses. In our business, you need people with the right technical skills, and the right attitude,” a combination she feels she has managed to attain through the careful selection of a strong and competent staff complement.

Looking ahead to the rest of this year, Judith expects the insurance sector to open up further. “We believe and hope that prices will stabilise and there will be more opportunity to provide for specialised risks.” The plan for the next few months is, indeed, to “keep growing healthily, and to try and market new covers which are emerging on the market.” These include insurance policies covering cyber risks, as well as liabilities associated with holding directorship positions in companies. “We’re in the risk business and, fortunately for us – although unfortunately from a societal point of view – we do see an increase in these areas of concern,” she says.

Meanwhile, she is worried about the lack of human resources in Malta. “We just don’t have the people on the island, and the whole industry needs to start taking this issue seriously,” she asserts, stressing that the country could be “facing a brain drain,” if this is not addressed. “It’s useless growing, if you don’t have the people to do so,” she asserts.

Despite the challenges, Judith’s passion for the sector remains unwavering, so much so that her son has also decided to forge a career within it and become a part of National Insurance Brokers’ dedicated team. And it is this irrepressible verve which motivates Judith to keep assisting her clients so that they “always feel we are by their side,” she smiles. “We are passionate about helping our clients, offering them solutions and building relationships. And, this year, we plan on persisting on this journey.”

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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