Meet the Senior Team of Chartered Insurance Brokers
Matthew Hartigan | Managing Director
Matthew joined Higos in June 2018 and has over 26 years’ experience with some of the UK’s leading brokers and insurers including Zurich and Royal Sun and Alliance, working in a number of different markets. Matthew is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute and a Chartered Insurance Broker.
As expected: Matthew is responsible for all aspects of Higos, from our products to our people, ensuring we meet our Clients’ priorities and creating an environment where everyone in the Higos team develop and grow.
Different: When Matthew was 18 he turned down a contract as a professional footballer in favour of a career in insurance.
Trudy Brown | Product & Underwriting Director
Trudy joined Higos in 1997 and has over 28 years' experience in the insurance industry. She's ACII qualified and a Chartered Insurance Broker.
As expected: Trudy delivers and manages our schemes, facilities and insurer relationships as well as providing underwriting support.
Different: She was a child model, appearing in TV ads and magazines before she was even 5 years old. She says her friends would describe herself as being left-field and a little bit crazy.
Sarah Neale | Central Trading Director
Sarah joined Higos in July 1994. She’s ACII qualified and a chartered insurance broker has previously worked in both our personal lines and commercial lines divisions.
As expected: Sarah runs our Central Region (which includes our Somerton and Bridgwater Offices) as well as heading up our Claims and Agency teams.
Different: Less than 0.5% of all UK dog owners show their dog at Crufts - and Sarah is one of them. She’s also a massive fan of crazy golf.
Alan Clarke | Branch Trading Director
Alan joined Higos in July 2000 and has spent his whole working career with Higos carrying out both personal lines and commercial roles. He’s ACII qualified, was awarded as Highly Commended BIBA Young Broker 2015.
As expected: Alan’s responsible for managing the Higos Branch Network and the Branch Management Team, travelling between our 12 offices in the South West.
Different: He’s also dab hand at skittles, regularly turning out for ‘The Comebacks’ in Division 1 of the Street and District League.
Julian Hilton | Sales & Markets Director
Julian, who joined Higos in September 2022, has over 30 years’ experience in the Insurance Broking sector. His passion is winning new clients and supporting the professional development of his Higos team mates.
As expected: Julian is responsible for the delivery of the Higos new business income objective, plus the strategic relationships we hold with insurer partners.
Different: As a former Sale Rugby Union player, Julian is a keen sport fan especially football / Manchester City FC, Rugby, Cricket and Golf. He also completed the Venice to Rome cycle ride in 2016 to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.
Vanessa Casey | Head of Operations
Vanessa is the most recent addition to the management team having joined Higos in February 2021, she has over 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry having spent the last 16 years with the Brightside group where she held a number of positions within the business, most recently head of contact centre specialising in Taxi/Minibus & Non Standard Home insurance.
As expected: Vanessa will be responsible for reviewing the operational processes, looking to streamline the journey for both customers and employees across the Higos group.
Different: Vanessa manages a women’s football team who compete in the National Women’s League, which is tier 4 on the football pyramid.
Chris Currie | Head of Claims
Chris is a recent addition to the Higos team, joining in August 2020 as our claims manager. With over 30 years’ experience in the insurance industry, most recently with Jelf/Marsh Commercial and has previously worked for large insurers such as Royal and Sun Alliance and RBS Insurance Services.
As expected: Chris heads up the Higos commercial and personal lines claims teams managing all aspects of the process and provision of exceptional client claims service.
Different: Prior to going grey, losing his hair and putting on a few pounds, Chris ‘dashing good looks’ enabled him to be a model in his younger years and he auditioned for the Clothes Show Models competition in 1989.
Kari Clarke | Conduct and Operations Support Manager
Kari joined Higos straight from college in 2006 and during her successful career with us has worked in a number of different commercial roles. Kari is ACII qualified with Chartered Insurance Broker status.
As expected: Kari manages this vital role in the business as it controls the oversight of our first line of governance defence and ensures that we are operating within the governance framework as set out by the Brown & Brown Group requirements. In addition, the role also oversees all Client complaints along with a host of other responsibilities.
Different: She’s also a keen Pole Fitness dancer and is learning aerial silks.
Meet the individuals that run our unique branch network
Vicki Carter | Assistant Regional Manager
Vicki joined Higos Insurance Services in 2004. During her time at Higos Vicki has held a variety of management positions and has gained valuable experience in many departments. Vicki works with Sarah Neale in our Somerton and Bridgwater offices with a focus on Personal Lines.
As expected: Vicki’s in charge of what we call ‘Central Trading’, specialising in some of our niche personal lines such as Thatch, High Net Worth, non-standard home insurance and specialist travel insurance.
Different: She can also drive a horse and carriage and once drove Michaela Strachan to her wedding.
Elaine Street | Branch Manager, Bridport
As expected: Elaine looks after our Bridport Branch and ensures we offer our customers excellent local service with tailored insurance policies to meet their needs.
Different: She was a child actor, appearing in our living rooms on popular TV dramas such as ‘Crème In My Coffee’ and alongside John Alderton and Pauline Collins in ‘Thomas & Sarah’.
Helen Newton | Branch Manager, Bude
As expected: Helen runs a tight ship at our Bude Branch, providing insurance solutions that don’t always fit the norm, and is also responsible for commercial new business.
Different: She’s a member of Bude’s Senior Surf Lifesaving team and also regularly competes in Triathlons.
Chris Smoldon | Branch Manager, Clevedon
As expected: Chris is responsible for ensuring our commercial and personal customers get the bespoke cover and personal service they need.
Different: Chris is a semi-professional drummer and award-winning cider maker, picking up a 1st Prize at the 2019 British Cider Championships.
Derek Hadlow | Branch Manager, Devizes
As expected: Derek’s in charge of all the lovely people in our Devizes branch. Providing bespoke insurance solutions, driving forward our business and the development of our team.
Different: He’s also a tattoo-loving, former bungee jumper.
Elle Wade | Branch Manager, Newton Abbot
Elle started working at Higos in pandemic Jan 2021. Since then, Elle has gone from Commercial desk exec to Commercial Account handler; and finally Branch Manager & Commercial Account Handler in September 2023.
As Expected - Elle leads a well established team in Newton Abbot, where she is dedicated to ensuring staff members are happy and our clients are well looked after.
Different - Elle engages in a wide range of hobbies; with sea swimming, attending music festivals, and painting to name a few.
Wayne Bottomley | Branch Manager, Plymouth
As expected: Wayne oversees the day-to-day running of the branch, making sure both our loyal customers and our hard-working team are always happy.
Different: He’s also completed two charity parachute jumps from a knee-knocking 15,000 ft.
Jami-Laura Blackett | Branch Manager, Southampton
Jami-Laura Blackett has been with Higos for over 10 years covering a variety of roles specialising in the personal lines divisions. Over the years Jami has taken on the role of inductee for the branch network, new starters to share her wealth knowledge of the system and products.
As Expected: Jami-Laura is responsible for the day to day running of the Southampton branch for both personal lines and commercial products, in addition JLB is also the assistant regional Support manager of the branch network involved in facilitating everything from data and MI to training and budget preparations
Different: 'Enjoys spending time with her family and fluffy Cavachon Pup. She has a big passion for the Cornish Coastline and volunteering / participating in charity events'
Ben Heal | Branch Manager, Street
As expected: Ben is the Manager at our Street Branch. Ben and his experienced team of advisors, offer tailor made insurance solutions and a local service for their Commercial and Personal clients.
Different: Ben is a keen mountain biker and is a Petrol Head. He is also has a passion for good food and wine.
Steve Bartlett | Branch Manager, The Insurance Group
The Insurance Group - Plympton branch was first established over 45 years ago and became part of the Higos Group in May 2019. Higos Insurance Services is a subsidiary of Brown & Brown Insurance Brokers (UK) Limited, a leading global insurance broking group.
As expected: Steve oversees the day-to-day running of The Insurance Group Plympton branch, inspiring his team to provide the very best service and personalised insurance solutions for our clients.
Different: He has a passion for Everton, Guinness, Live Music/Comedy, the beach and travel (not in any particular order) and prefers to combine as many of these as possible.