Certifying Quality in Solar Insurance
Project Manager: Matt Cole-Wilkin
Providing insurance for photo voltaic panel manufacturers against defects and insolvency is a high risk enterprise, yet having found its niche in the market in the early stages of Company development, Solarif is going from strength to strength with its unique triangular business model.
Every PV project the Company encounters will be complex, with each venture differing greatly; therefore this requires each package to be tailor-made to the unique situation. Composing such comprehensive packages, which are both affordable and provide solid coverage, requires a profound level of knowledge and thorough understanding of technical, commercial and economic aspects within the solar industry. With its vast levels of expertise and triangular organisation structure and experience within the Company, Solarif has that knowledge.
The Synergetic Solarif Triangular Model is one of the Company’s most enticing differentiators, placing the client right in the centre, enabling them to fully benefit from all three divisions. In comparison with its market competitors Solarif uses these three arms, Insurance, Risk Management and Matchmaker, to provide a niche service which is tailor-made around its client.
All three aspects work together cohesively, using Solarif Insurance to protect the client’s investment and returns, with Solarif Risk Management reducing the risk involved while securing the quality of the used panels and inverters, but also the quality of the installation itself. The Solarif Matchmaker service works to convert a client’s needs into an opportunity through effective networking.
The latter service unites project owners and investors, helping them to understand each other and work on the same wavelength. A huge advantage is the efficiency aspect for all parties involved, and knowing the profiles of solar investors. Therefore Solarif is able to bring the right investors on board, saving all parties a lot of time and money.
With Solarif’s extensive access to an ever-growing group of network companies that are active in the PV industry, the Company provides the perfect platform for investors, EPC’s and developers.
“The passion within the Company, combined with our insurance knowledge, international insurance network, quality control and certification, together with our unique Matchmaker service, has given us a name as an exceptional and innovative brand,” explains Harry Wolkenfelt, Chief Executive Officer at Solarif.
“We have reached a stage now where our certification of PV modules has become a quality stamp within the market and commands a high level of respect. Once we are convinced of the quality of the modules, we are also willing to take the risk of bad quality by protecting the asset and revenues through our unique inherent defect coverage.”
The Company will identify the specific capabilities and needs of each client, converting its knowledge of the market into concrete opportunities in a sophisticated and professional manner. For example, within Matchmaker that the highly advanced system ensures that buyers and sellers will only be contacted when there is a high probability of completion which saves time and money across the board.
Cornering a niche market
The Compact nature of the Company has allowed it to corner the market in solar insurance in the eight years since inception. Having become an authority in the industry, it has been able to make a real difference in comparison with larger insurance companies which work worldwide but often lack specific focus.
The Company began operations in February, 2009 under the name Solar Insurance & Finance, with a website under the brand, Solarif. In 2015, along with a complete overhaul of the Company brand, its title was officially changed to the latter, capitalising on the recognition that had by then been established.
Wolkenfelt comments: “As we set up business in Holland eight years ago there wasn’t anything like us on the market, therefore we knew as soon as the Dutch market was up and running we would be well positioned at the front.”
After establishing itself as an insurance broker and underwriting agency Solarif insured all kinds of solar modules against inherent defect. Later on the Company realised the risk was too high and therefore decided to solely insure Solarif-certified panels, signifying the beginning of Solarif Risk Management.
“If a factory meets our stringent requirements and is approved, we shall certify that factory; only clients with certified panels in their projects are allowed to buy the additional Inherent defect insurance in addition to our Operational all risk insurance,” adds Wolkenfelt.
Certifying the panels provides numerous advantages for all parties involved, namely positive outcomes for the manufacturer, the insurer and the insured. The manufacturer will see an incremental improvement across its sales, while the insurer will experience a decrement in the amount of claims, compounded by a substantial drop in financial risks and higher overall revenue for the insured, also making finance easier and sometimes even cheaper.
“An added bonus that we can offer the certified panel manufacturers is our Inherent Defect Coverage for their clients. The combination of the two creates a unique insurance offering, setting us apart from other larger insurance companies,” clarifies Wolkenfelt.
It is possible for inherent defects to lead to serious damage and it is hard for an inexperienced eye to judge the quality as each solar panel is different to another. Solarif’s insurance will protect the investment and secure revenue and uniquely will reimburse consequential losses, such as labour, transport and business interruption, which would not normally be paid by the manufacturer in the event of an inherent defect.
The Sunny Belt
The scale of the projects that Solarif is working on spreads far and wide, particularly with the three separate companies to take into account. Focusing on the insurance side in particular, the size of the installations will vary from country to country.
The majority of the Company’s work has been located in Europe, however, looking ahead the business will also emanate from areas in the Sunny Belt, including Central America, South America, Latin America, the MENA region, Asia and Australia.
“It’s not like Europe is going to die off, but the projects in the Sunny Belt countries are bigger and they make more sense; there is so much sunshine to tap into and it doesn’t need a subsidy from the government to make it a viable project,” says Wolkenfelt. “In Europe the bigger projects still proving to be successful are generally located in Southern Europe, as they also work without subsidy.”
When it comes to attracting new clients all over the world, the Company attends all relevant industry exhibitions and conferences, where the foundations for numerous new profitable deals and projects have been established.
“I recently went to Israel where I was asked to speak at a conference organised by a panel manufacturer,” continues Wolkenfelt. “After providing a talk on solar insurance and how it all works, I was able to make a vast amount of valuable connections with investors, EPC’s, developers, banks and insurers. We will often leave this sort of events with a lot of meetings in place and new connections to begin work with.”
Solarif is a Company that is constantly evolving in the ever-changing market that is solar power. Over the years it has honed its unique and effective skills at connecting the right industry professionals, saving precious time for all parties involved, while helping them to strike the right balance between high profitability and risks; it will be exciting to see how the business will move forward as the need for solar power grows.