Allianz Cornhill is making an aggressive push into commercial lines by creating local underwriting centres with the authority to quote for risks up to £100m.

The insurer, which has a £272.8m commercial book, has created underwriting centres that will link regional broker teams and new national broker units with the local business developer.

It provides a seamless, commercial underwriting service for brokers.

The aim of the new teams is to offer local underwriting expertise, backed by a high level of authority to quote for all commercial risks with up to £100m turnover, without referral.

Allianz Cornhill's commercial executive, Chris Hanks, said: "We believe that local knowledge, backed by superior technical skill, is the key to underwriting commercial risks profitability.

"Our strategy is to put experienced underwriters, with flexible decision making authority, where they can help brokers most. And that is in their neighbourhood."

There are about 250 regional underwriting managers based at Allianz Cornhill offices in Woking, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester.

The national brokers are located in Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester.

Allianz Cornhill, which has a 4,500-strong agency base, surveyed 180 brokers across the UK before making the investment into local underwriting centres.

Brokers overwhelmingly called for the insurer to focus resources into commercial lines and to concentrate on providing high service levels.

Allianz Cornhill will be seeking growth across-the-board from the small 'package' commercial business up to the medium-sized bespoke business.

But the insurer will face fierce competition from rival insurers, particularly Royal & SunAlliance which is also targetting the small to medim sized business sector.

But Hanks is confident the the strategy will deliver substantial and profitable growth in the insurer's chosen market.

He said: "Our focus is on providing the resources brokers need to build solid business partnerships with us.

"Putting underwriting expertise where it is needed is tangible proof of commitment to grow in the commercial market."