Hubbard unveils 3-5 year plan for market leadership 'in areas we choose to work in' - Exclusive

AXA is aiming to usurp Norwich Union (NU) as Britain's number one SME insurer.

AXA chief executive Peter Hubbard said in the next three to five years, AXA would aim to have a better customer to premium ratio than NU. "Quantitatively we are number two to NU and qualitatively we are looking pretty good. But we are aiming to be number one," he said.

The aim comes from AXA's new three-year business plan and five-year strategy called Firing on all Cylinders. This replaces First Choice, which AXA implemented over the three years since Hubbard's arrival. Hubbard said: "We achieved 104% [combined operating ratio] by 2004 as we promised. The engine room has been fixed. Now it is time to get market leadership."

The targets of the business plan include a gross written premium of £2.5bn by the end of 2007, and expense ratio of under 10% and a combined ratio of under 100%, explained Hubbard. Currently AXA writes around £2bn of premium per year.

Hubbard said the new strategy also involved being the easiest insurer to do business with and being better at product innovation.

' Insurance Times' management briefing "Making money from SMEs" will take place on 10 March in Birmingham. It will offer exclusive research on the SME market, debate about the future of brokers in the SME market and will be opened by shadow economic affairs minister Richard Spring MP.