Provincial brokers will be targeted by Allianz Cornhill Engineering (ACE) in a drive to grow its book of business.

ACE underwriting and operations manager Martin Ball told Insurance Times that the insurer would be looking at ways to cross-sell its engineering products to Allianz Cornhill commercial clients.

He also said that ACE would be developing its specialist engineering policies covering "niche areas of profitability" such as schools, offices, charities and railways.

The engineering market completed a major round of renewals at the end of March.

Ball said that engineering insurance rates were flat, but that rates for inspection were still hardening.

He anticipated continued increases of 5%.

In 2003, ACE achieved 18% premium growth and doubled its profits.

"We have the best combined ratio within Allianz Cornhill by a long way," said Ball.

He predicted that growth in 2004 would not be as strong owing to a softening of rates.