AXA Insurance is aiming to displace Norwich Union (NU) as the leading insurer in the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.

When announcing AXA's new business strategy for 2004-06, Beyond First Choice, UK chief executive Peter Hubbard told Insurance Times that the company's longer term aim was to improve its position from number two to number one in the SME sector.

"We are now starting to see ourselves in the small business market in a lot of intermediaries as number two," Hubbard said.

"We think if we can carry on reducing our expense ratios in commercial and continue to grow our business through just being far more efficient than the competition, while it might not happen in this planning period, we have an opportunity of being number one."

He said that broker feedback suggested that NU was currently winning the fight for SME customers.

Hubbard said that due to a "less hard" market, AXA expects overall gross written premium (GWP) growth to slow from the 30% growth the company has achieved since 2002.

  • For a full analysis of AXA's new business strategy, Beyond First Choice, see page 10