Insurer's commercial legal expenses set for ten-fold boost

AXA is set to announce a deal with Abbey Legal Protection that will increase the amount of commercial legal expenses (CLE) business AXA writes by ten-fold.

The deal, which is due to be finalised at the end of December, will see the launch of an expanded CLE policy. This will include cover for contract disputes and will have an increased risk management focus. The policy will be available as a stand-alone cover and as part of a package.

The move is being made to take advantage of the "new potential of the market," with AXA seeking to position itself "within the top three" of the CLE market. AXA currently writes only £500,000 of business in this class.

AXA casualty insurance manager David Williams said: "We currently write only a small amount of business at the moment. We could easily get over £5m of business.

"Seven years ago we launched a CLE product, but it did not sell very well due to problems with pricing and cover.

"We now see the potential to create a more general market. People are much more aware of the need for this sort of cover nowadays."

AXA has been talking to a number of specialist CLE insurers to act as a partner, including its present supplier Abbey Legal Protection.

Williams said: "Abbey has put forward more than we wanted. It is very unlikely that anyone else would be our partner on this deal."

Abbey Legal Protection sales and marketing manager Nicky Amor said: "We are discussing a programme of how we will move forward with AXA.

"We very much hope we will be AXA's preferred supplier in the next term. We are looking at putting a little more energy into the relationship."