TSM insurance Bespoke insurance, made in La Chaux-de-Fonds
Operating from the very heart of Switzerland’s watchmaking capital, TSM insurance has been supporting watch brands big and small since 1921.
La Chaux-de-Fonds is famous as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the historic home of many of the world’s most well-known watch brands. But just a short walk from the railway station you will also find the modest headquarters of TSM insurance, a company that has been insuring watch brands since 1921, when it was originally set up to insure transport for watch shipments (TSM stands for “transport société mutuelle”).
The company has long been insuring transport of luxury watches for the local brands but branched out into other fields relatively recently. It commenced its motorsport insurance activities, for example, in 2008 and added a new “assistance” product just last year. In practice, this means that TSM can offer tailor-made insurance for anything from a full cargo ship about to set sail from Asia bound for Europe to a niche brand that needs to ensure the transport from Geneva to Paris of two prototype watches worth a million Swiss francs.
“Some of our new customers are often surprised to discover that our headquarters is in La Chaux-de-Fonds,” admits TSM’s CEO Edouard Fragnière, “and that our offices in Geneva and Zurich, for example, are just regional agencies.” But it is the proximity to the home base of some of its major customers that facilitates direct contact and has helped the company to amass its specialist experience.
The company’s personal approach is also evident in its view of what insurance should be. Alluding to the very meaning of the word, the company is more concerned with ensuring that a consignment of watches arrives at its destination, for example, rather than paying out in the event that it doesn’t. To do so, of course, requires a comprehensive understanding of the transport process and the various risks involved, from breakages in transit to customs problems and the ever-present and ever-fallible human element. “Whenever your civil liability insurer says no, think of us,” explains Philippe Gozel, who is responsible for the transport department, citing the recent example of a client who wanted event insurance for a VIP guest who would be attending a conference for just a matter of hours. TSM can also provide solutions for event insurance, which can be increasingly important for brands staging major extravaganzas, not to mention the major trade shows like the SIHH and Baselworld, where the company is also heavily involved.
Because TSM puts in so much effort to ensure that risks are minimized and, in the case of transport, that the goods arrive at their destination, according to Mr Fragnière the company does not quibble about paying out when the need arises. “We at TSM do not comb through the small print to find an excuse for not paying out - that is not the way we work.”