Giant American firm AIG is thought to be gearing up for a massive relaunch as a UK personal lines insurer, it emerged this week.

The move came after the group's European subsidiary, AIG Europe, wooed Axa's highly-regarded motor manager, Andrew Tait, to the position of head of personal lines insurances.

AIG was unable to confirm or deny the relaunch. But a source told Insurance Times that the American insurer is seeking to work alongside a select panel of large motor and household brokers.

In 1995, AIG Europe had net premium income of around £25m from motor insurance. The following year, that figure was down to £18m and by 1998, AIG had no premium income from motor. But by capturing industry heavyweight Tait, who had been with Axa for five years, AIG is said to be gearing up for a new assault on the market.

An Axa spokesperson said: "I think the reason he [Tait] left was because of the opportunity to do that job. I am sure Andy does not have any issues with Axa, but the step he has made is quite a good one for him." The news caused a stir in the market when it became clear Axa will not seek to replace him.

Kevin Sinclair, the head of non-motor underwriting, will become head of motor underwriting as well.