Recruitment drive signs up 164 new brokers, while rivals remain flat

Allianz Cornhill has bucked recent trends among insurers, increasing its agency base by almost 5% since January.

The insurer has signed up 164 new agencies in the past nine months following a recruitment drive.

Alan Griffett, Allianz Cornhill divisional and district marketing manager, said: "We expect this figure to reach 10% as we continue with our recruitment push into next year."

In comparison, agency bases for other insurers have remained relatively flat, with AXA's and Royal & SunAlliance's agencies stable during 2005.

In April Norwich Union (NU) announced plans to grow its small agency base.

But its director of regional business Phil Hitchcox said that this year the insurer had signed between a half and a third of the intermediaries it had added in the previous year.

Hitchcox said the new FSA regime had made it harder for new companies to start up. Combined with consolidation and a slowing of the market, this had affected the availability of potential agencies, he added.

Stuart Reid, chief executive of broker Stuart Alexander, said there had been little evidence to show that insurance companies were taking on new agencies, despite well-publicised plans to the contrary.

In the past two years the industry has witnessed an agency cull.

Last year NU controversially dropped agencies that had less than £40,000 premium placed with the company.