Among job cuts, legal wrangles, regulatory fears, asbestos pay-outs and the liability crisis, stories of a Bermuda exodus, golden jubilee euphoria and edible maggots filled the pages of Insurance Times


Bright's wife, Lloyd's overhaul and NHS charges

Insurance heavyweights will have their first meeting with the Treasury and the FSA this month to discuss the new regulatory regime. Representatives from the Treasury, the GISC, the ABI and Biba are invited to the meeting, at which a preliminary timetable is expected to be set for ongoing discussions.

Former Independent chief executive Michael Bright is accused by his wife Katie of duping her into signing Natwest loan documents. Natwest had taken Mrs Bright to the High Court in a bid to recover £290,000 she borrowed in a joint loan with her husband. Bright has been declared bankrupt following the collapse of Independent Insurance.

Plans to overhaul Lloyd's could start in 2003, a senior market source tells Insurance Times. The plans were hatched following the publication of the Bain Report, which recommended the end of Names and publishing financial figures three years in arrears.

Infuriated insurers lobby the Health Department over increased NHS charges that were to cost the industry at least £18m a year, forcing the government into an embarrassing climbdown. The Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Amendment Regulations 2001, due to come into force on 28 January, are revoked, while the industryis consulted.


ABI merger and airline cover

The ABI general insurance board gives the thumbs up to plans for entering merger discussions with the British Banking Association. ABI director general Mary Francis reveals plans to ask members to consider a merger in November 2002.

Global transport chiefs have to decide whether to back the world's biggest insurance deal. International airlines and the world's three biggest brokers lobby 187 national governments to act as reinsurers of last resort in the event of a huge loss such as 11 September.


Bermuda exodus, regulation and premium tax

Senior market figures estimate that around 20 high profile people have left for tax-haven Bermuda, including John Charman - the former group president and chief executive office of Ace International.

The ABI calls for the Treasury to cut insurance premium tax by 1%. It argued that the insurers buyers would face a huge additional tax burden arising from the large premium increases since 11 September. One MP described the ABI positions as "self-serving pleading from the insurance industry".

Market sources reveal that the FSA is poised to break Lloyd's 314-year-old tradition of self-regulation and take on the full-time roll of market regulator.


Asbestos, poltergeists and call centres in India

A confidential ABI scheme is revealed whereby mesothelioma sufferers will receive early compensation from insurers in return for signing away their legal rights against insurers.

Broker Ultraviolet launches poltergeist all -isks insurance. The cover pays out £1m for death or permanent disability caused by ghosts, poltergeists or other abnormal phenomena.

German insurer Allianz faces sanctions from the US state of Illinois, including the loss of its licence to trade. The insurer is accused of failing to fund an international commission to settle claims over unpaid life assurance policies of Holocaust victims.

Zurich opens a call centre in India, as it cannot find UK staff to work unsocial hours. The pilot scheme runs for six months and UK staff travel to India to train the new recruits.


Office closures, disgruntled staff and ring-fencing

The FSA's John Tiner calls on the broking world's big hitters to create a strategy group to shape the new regulatory regime. The team meet for the first time and consist of: Lloyd's Insurance Brokers Committee executive director David Hough; Smart & Cook Alliance chairman Paul Meehan; The Broker Network managing director Grant Ellis; and Biba chairman Mike Williams .

AXA chief Peter Hubbard's re-structuring plans begin. One in five UK staff are to be cut, but the company aims to increase sales revenues by 30%. The claims office in Cardiff is closed, along with the personal lines claims call centre in Colchester. Branch offices in Preston and Plymouth are closed and the commercial lines service centre in Bolton is transferred to Haverhill.

Insurance Times is leaked an internal memo from disgruntled Norwich Union (NU) staff, lambasting the company for "dishonesty" and "ignoring its customers' needs". When presented with the statement, "NU understands the needs of staff and customers", just 11% of claims handlers at one branch agreed.

An unnamed source comments on Cox's ring-fence deal with Lloyd's: "It just shows how desperate they [Lloyd's] were to make sure Cox stays in the Lloyd's Market. If Cox left Lloyd's, its franchise as a motor market would be substantially reduced."


Jubilee joy and fire wrangle

The Queen's Golden Jubilee goes with a bang. Industry pundits estimate that 100,000 golden jubilee celebrations will get cover, even though the UK is gripped by the liability crisis. Lucy Scurlock-Jones of specialist broker Events Insurance says of the celebrations: "We're struggling to cope with demand. "

A legal row ignites between AXA and Marsh over the £75m Center Parcs fire in Suffolk. AXA Corporate Solution, the lead insurer on the risk, is understood to have reserved its right to void the policy on the basis of alleged non-disclosure by Marsh.


Indie deal, redundancies and non-flotation

Brokers grudgingly accept the deal put forward by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the return of commissions and premiums from the collapsed Independent Insurance. Of around 800 brokers, 90% agree to the deal after weeks of wrangling.

Miller Fisher's receiver Deloitte & Touche lays off all the company's staff. Sources say that adjusters and secretaries are the first to go. The redundancies come as a surprise as the receiver had said it intended to sell the company as a going concern.

Broker Heath Lambert pulls out of its proposed flotation on the stock market. The broker had failed to set a flotation price the week before, while speculation is that it would be between 325p and 375p. The company blames plunging stock markets for the float being pulled.


Names, liability and Indie run-off

Lloyd's breathes a sigh of relief when it finally wins its long-running litigation against the "Jaffray" Names in the Court of Appeal.

The court finds Lloyd's not guilty of fraud, but does find that it made certain misrepresentations to investors.

Construction firms seek urgent talk with insurers after becoming the latest victims of the liability crisis. The Construction Confederation says that small roofing contractors' inability to purchase liability cover is reaching "crisis point".

Speculation mounts over the future of Aurora Corporate Services, the Independent Insurance run-off operation. Insiders say it could be sold to a non-insurance company in a deal that would protect managers' jobs.


Monte Carlo, reinsurance and 9/11

Reinsurers gather at the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous, where London Market Reporter Eloise Haigh gives readers a run-down of the latest news and gossip.

Aon sparks a debate by releasing a report that says changes occurring in the reinsurance market were structural rather than cyclical.

Brokers give their reactions to reports that Norwich Union allegedly sent to brokers the wrong agency agreements.

Further drama ensues as Capita McLarens is axed from Churchill's loss adjusting panel.

And an undetonated bomb is found in Portsmouth Harbour as guests at the Insurance Times regatta relax after the final day's racing.


Bali bomb, journalist award and the full monty

A bomb goes off on the tourist paradise island of Bali, bringing terrorism back into forefront of the industry's mind.

Our very own chief reporter Christine Seib wins the coveted best journalist writing for a general insurance trade publication award at the ABI Financial Media Awards.

Royal & Sun Alliance (R&SA) chief executive Duncan Boyle assuages fears of insolvency, saying the insurer " would not sink like Indie and leave brokers in the lurch".

Faraday chief executive Nigel Barton is replaced by Milan Vukelic, after a row with General Re boss Joseph Brandon.

Polaris announces the pilot of its E-Market portal for the first quarter of next year.

And Backchat raises a few eyebrows when it breaks the story of Mortgage Watchdog's Monty Burn who plans to release his video, The Full Monty Experience.


Aviation charges, maggots and downgrading

The European Commission investigates top aviation brokers for allegedly sneaking hidden charges into their dealings with clients. These payments are thought to be against the spirit and possibly the letter of EU law.

A woman, who claimed she was ill for five days after eating a tin of peeled tomatoes containing maggots, receives a letter from Capita McLarens, the loss adjuster for the supermarket, saying: "Ingestion of maggots would [not] cause food poisoning and certainly not for five days."

FSA managing director John Tiner reassures anxious brokers at the Insurance Times Strategy 2002 conference that credit would be given to firms with GISC membership . He also gives further details of the monitoring and application process.

Embattled insurer R&SA is left reeling by rating agencies' downbeat assessment of its financial strength. Moody's downgrades the insurer to BAA1 from A3. Fitch cuts the long-term rating to BBB from A. And Standard & Poor's lowered its rating from A to A-. A M Best however, affirms R&SA at A- (excellent).

The three biggest reinsurers, Swiss Re, Munich Re and General Cologne R, announce they will no longer cover asbestos liabilities in 2003. Swiss Re says increased claims in the US and France show "enormous loss potential".

A MORI poll commissioned by Insurance Times finds that industry is in good shape. It reveals that 82% of policyholders are happy or fairly happy with their household insurance providers. Only 4% are unhappy, fairly unhappy or very unhappy with their provider.


Euro investigation

A group of Independent Insurance creditors is demanding that the European Commission investigates the FSA's role in Independent's collapse. The group's complaint is that the FSA "failed to regulate" the insurer in breach of a directive.