As the Insider knows only too well, there’s snow business like the insurance business

Fancy a punt at this year’s Grand National? Well here’s a nice little tip for you. Chris Giles’ horse, Tricky Trickster, is currently one of the favourites to romp home at the Grand National. Bookmakers have Tricky at around 20-1, and I’m told those are tasty odds. Racing experts have called Tricky “an excellent jumper with staying power and pace”. I’m hearing Giles is involved in another little racer that’s coming along nicely: the exotically named Tchico Polos. It may be a winning ticket, but try saying that one after a few beers at the races.

Is it a bird? Is it a … no, probably a bird

I hear there’s currently a big ongoing investigation at Biba HQ after chief executive Eric Galbraith was the subject of an unprovoked attack from a certain missile that left his office window completely shattered. Thankfully, the Scotsman was out at a meeting, or it could have been nasty. But it does beg the question of whether trade bodies are taking their ‘forceful lobbying’ a step too far? The culprit in the industry’s latest ‘whodunnit’ is yet to be found, but the list of suspects currently includes: the FSA; a rival broker association; an insurer; a bird.

Who’s your money on? Drop me an email and I’ll publish the results next week. To help you solve the case, I've attached photo evidence (see right) or visit my Facebook page – Backchat Insider.

Very high achievers indeed

You might think there was nothing left for Peter Cullum to achieve. After all, he’s already won a place in the Sunday Times rich list, bought half the UK’s broking businesses and won a fair few rows with some of the industry’s top dogs. So I reckon his next ambition will be on a new scale altogether. Rumours that he is planning a trip into space are as yet unconfirmed – but could this be the true reason behind his friendship with Richard Branson, soon to be proud owner of the world’s first commercial spaceship?

Rolling back the years

I must offer thanks to an eagle-eyed reader of this column for putting me straight. As you may remember, last week I turned 50, entering a new decade that coincided with 2010, the start of a new decade for everyone else. Not according to broker boffin Peter Wood of Genesis Risk Solutions, who explains: “We did not enter a new decade on 1 January 2010. The new decade actually starts on the 1 January 2011, on the basis that each decade ends in a zero. For example, the first decade ended at midnight on 31 December in the year 10 AD and the second decade ended at midnight on 31 December 20 AD.” Okay, Peter, you win.

No time to just chill

With all the snow problems recently, it brings a smile to my face to hear about the activities down at Swiftcover. Staff at the AXA-owned business trudged through the snow, hired 4x4 vehicles to get to work and even spent the night away from home so they could be in the office to help the record number of motorists with insurance claims. It's a funny thing – in many industries, the snow has been an excuse to stay at home, put the fire on and watch a bit of TV instead of going to work. But then again, I suppose it shows you the dedication of us insurance folk.

Not so shy and retiring

Meanwhile, for all those of you wondering what it’s like to retire in style, look no further than Lloyd's franchise performance director Rolf Tolle. Rolf walked away with a special Lloyd’s silver medal for his services to the market at a special dinner held in his honour last month. He also received lavish praise from the Lloyd’s top brass, being credited for dragging the institution out of the ashes of the Names fiasco and into a bright new era of world-beating underwriting. Happy retirement, Rolf.