What are the big stories hitting the headlines this week?

Scandal

Credit hire company Helphire is investigating whether it can recover money from insurers following allegations that the data insurers used to negotiate credit hire rates was falsified. Helphire’s action was prompted by a court ruling allowing fellow credit hire company Accident Exchange to pursue contempt of court allegations against seven former employees of Autofocus, a now-liquidated company that researched average credit hire rates on insurers’ behalf. The seven employees are alleged to have based their research on phantom telephone calls rather than genuine ones. This research was then used by a wide range insurers to negotiate credit hire rates with firms such as Helphire and Accident Exchange.

Cession

Motor insurer Admiral has extended its contracts with its panel of reinsurers until 2014 and cut its retention level for the next three years to 25% of the business it writes from 27.5% in 2011. XL Re will leave the panel in 2014, but its 2.5% share of Admiral’s risk will be assumed by existing panel members Swiss Re and Mapfre Re.

U-turn

Alyson Williams has rejoined Towergate Underwriting less than six months after departing for rival firm Gallagher. Williams will be household development director at Towergate Underwriting. She originally joined the consolidator in March 2010.

Deal

Private equity firm Duke Street has bought a “significant” take in legal and claims management company Parabis. The deal values Parabis at Between £150m and £200m. The existing Parabis management team, led by chief executive Tim Oliver, will remain with the business.