If you go into the reception area of Hiscox in York you might be forgiven for doing a double-take. Yes, that really is a rocket, pointing up towards the sky and dominating its impressive surroundings. 

Where some corporate offices might be bland and unimaginative you certainly couldn't level that accusation against this particular building, which is bold and dramatic but sits very comfortably in the medieval heart of York.  

The purpose built and award-winning cast concrete office has many fascinating, and even spectacular, features - but the thing that really stands out is the decommissioned Soviet rocket. 

The symbolism behind the incredible sight is explained by James Scottwood, head of Hiscox in York. 

“The York office is located at Peasholme Green and although it is an award-winning architectural design, we are probably most known for the decommissioned rocket in our reception,” Mr Scottwood said. 

“It represents collaboration as, at the time, it was a joint venture between Russia and the USA and so symbolizes how working on a shared vision can create something record breaking.   

“It is one of the many art works we surround ourselves with in the office. We do offer art tours for those interested in seeing more of the Hiscox Collection, with all proceeds going to one of our charity partners, so if you would like to see the missile up close, look out for future events.”  

That emphasis on involving local people and helping charities is a central part of the company’s ethos.

This year Hiscox is celebrating its tenth anniversary of being part of York. 

And during those ten years it has firmly embedded itself into the life of the city - not just as a business but also as a part of the local community and as a supporter of local charities. 

Mr Scottwood said: “Hiscox opened for business in York in 2013 – and moved into our purpose built office in the Hungate area in 2015 – which means we’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary of being part of the city.  

“Being ‘of’ York not just ‘in’ York has always been important to us, and sponsoring the York Press Business Awards 2023 enables us to further deepen our roots in the city we call home.”   

Hiscox had looked throughout the UK before deciding on York and had been swayed by the city’s combination of excellent infrastructure, well educated workforce and quality of life. 

“The draw to setting up business in York was huge,” Mr Scottwood said. “The mix of good rail links to London and the abundance of talent in the area made it an easy choice – that and the beautiful surrounding Yorkshire countryside that makes commuting to work a joy, well almost!” 

Hiscox is a specialist insurer employing more than 3,000 people in 14 countries, with customers worldwide.  

Mr Scottwood said: “Through our businesses in the UK, Europe, Asia and the USA, we offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers as well as homeowners. York – with over 450 employees – is our largest office outside of London and within our walls, we have a wide range of employee roles, including marketing, finance and HR, through to operations. We are also home to our development teams, offering a wide range of business insurance to protect our customers from start-ups to global corporations – always adding the personal touch to ensure our customers’ needs are met.   

“Our aim in coming to York has always been to bring a varied range of roles at differing levels across the organisation, meaning an employee can have a full and successful career without the need to relocate elsewhere.” 

Mr Scottwood has been with the York branch since its very beginning.  

“I joined the Hiscox Human Resources team back in 2012, in anticipation of the York office opening,” he said. 

“My role was to fill the building with the best talent recruited from the local area and grow a culture embracing our Hiscox values – including integrity and courage – with a clear steer to make the office feel authentically proud to be Yorkshire, which is great as I would struggle to hide my strong Wakefield accent!” 

From its earliest days the branch set out to become part of the local community. 

“We always wanted our York office to be truly part of the city which means getting involved with the local business community and working closely with local business groups and charities,” Mr Scottwood explained. 

“This not only helps those within the community, but it is a key selling point for potential employees and helps retention of our current workforce, who grow and thrive working closely with partners such as Career Ready – a charity that gives students the skills to help them successfully transfer into the workplace.  

“It's why we choose new charity partners every year for our York office. In 2022, we raised over £20,000 for Different Strokes – a local stroke survivors’ group and this year, we are proud to be supporting York Against Cancer and York Foodbank.” 

Over the course of 2022 Hiscox employees at York took part in a number of fundraising events including ‘treats from the sweetie trolley’, a 5k inflatable run, hosting art tours of the office, celebration lunches and raffles. 

The money raised is helping the York group of Different Strokes to continue providing social and physical activities. 

York Against Cancer is a small, independent, local charity. Over the last three decades it has raised more than £20 million to make a difference to the lives of local people affected by cancer. 

York Foodbank started in 2012 as an initiative of local churches to help the growing numbers of people living through poverty, hardship and distress.  It now runs six food distribution points across the city. 

Every year the York Hiscox office chooses to fundraise for a charity that has touched a member of the team in some way. 

But it’s not just charity that benefits from the company’s ethos of offering help and support. 

When it comes to working with other businesses Hiscox has an innovative scheme which has proved very popular. 

Mr Scottwood said: “We have more than 100 local businesses who are members of the Hiscox Business Club which is based in our York office and opened in 2015. It provides free office space to the businesses who benefit from desk space, free postal services and other office amenities as well as offering valuable networking opportunities with other small businesses.   

“As well as providing real, tangible help to the small business community, the Hiscox Business Club helps us to learn about the challenges and issues small businesses face and how we can innovate and develop our own small business insurance products and services to help them.” 

Hiscox is an international specialist insurer which is headquartered in Bermuda. Its UK division has more than 100 years’ experience in insurance. Based on the number of policies sold in 2021 it provides commercial cover for more than 400,000 businesses in the UK. It also provides home insurance cover for over 60,000 homes in the UK. 

Hiscox London Market underwrites international businesses, via the Lloyd’s insurance market, and specialist retail business from around the world. Its expertise extends beyond the earth - as it even insures interplanetary probes and observation satellites. 

Hiscox has an impressive and extensive art collection which hangs in its offices around the world and which it hopes will inspire its staff. The collection includes works by renowned international artists such as David Hockney, Candida Hofer and Cecily Brown.