Midlands brokers have complained that Axa has reneged on underwriting commitments and cancelled cover after withdrawing underwriting authority from account managers they have dealt with for years.

Jessica Yeoh of Banner Morgan said a combined liability risk her regular account manager had approved at £4,000 was subsequently cancelled by Axa without explanation. And she says the account manager, five others and two principal account managers were hauled in to Axa Birmingham office and told they were stripped of their underwriting authorisation.

“This was a peach of a risk. The company had been a customer of ours for 17 years and had never had a claim. The firm erects water towers and the Health and Safety Executive confer with them over safety procedures in their sector.

“We had the liability survey from Lombard, which was pulling out of the sector. We sent a fax confirming the premium and then we got a letter from team leader David Tucker with no apology and no explanation, taking it off risk,” Yeoh says.

The broker had to place the risk for £100 more and with bigger excesses in the Lloyd's market at short notice. She was also unable to inform her client because he had left to go on holiday. She says she had other examples at the same time.

“If they take things off risk after they have completed a survey then that''s fair enough, but how is a broker to know what sort of risks insurers want if they don't tell us why they're taking things off risk?” says Yeoh. She also says the account manager now has little role. “All he can do now is come and have tea and biscuits with us.”

Axa says the account managers were never meant to underwrite, which is always done by branch underwriters. “They have to have their fingers in many pies but it's not really their decision to take on multi-million pound risks,” a spokesman said.

Axa has recently appointed a new manager in its Birmingham office.