New division will target firms with £100m-plus turnover

Aviva is pitting itself against Allianz, Zurich and RSA in the fight for large corporate accounts by launching a dedicated new division with 30 staff.

Aviva Corporate Risks Solutions aims to write “hundreds of millions” in new business, adding a significant contribution to the insurer’s £5bn UK net written premium. Aviva saw more than £200m wiped off its commercial premium at the half-year results in August, following a series of fraught negotiations with some of the consolidators.

The London-based division will officially launch in January, but is currently underwriting risks during a soft launch phase. Its main focus will be on winning UK business, typically from firms with a turnover of £100m, but with scope to handle either smaller or much larger accounts.

Director of trading Phil Bayles said: “In the UK, we are number two in personal lines and number one in SME. In the past, we have been a bit-part player [in corporate], but given our brand strength and financial strength, we want to be a top-three player in this segment as well.”

Bayles said that Aviva had pulled back from the corporate accounts eight or nine years ago, citing a lack of expertise.

But Aviva is now ready to re-enter the market, coinciding with its new brand launch and an appetite to grow premium income in new areas.

Target brokers include Aon, Marsh and Willis, along with the consolidators such as Towergate, Oval and Bluefin, and brokers with large-scale UK accounts, such as Heath Lambert.

One leading London market director said: “Norwich Union used to write a lot of large business and international business, and then they pulled out. The questions the market will be asking are: how will you demonstrate your commitment and for what period of time?”

Bayles is temporary director of the new venture, with a new boss set to come in during the next three to six months. Paul Sullivan, a commercial underwriter promoted from within Aviva, will manage the division. Staff numbers will rise to 50 by the end of next year, with back-up support from the Aviva network.