Celebrity weddings, footballers’ wives, fantasy rugby, industry gossip … Is the Insider reading too much News of the World?

I heard through a mouse in the house this week that international guests for Neil Utley’s recent carnival-themed wedding were delayed in traffic on the M25 near Heathrow, following a warehouse fire. Allianz chief Andrew Torrance said the insurance giant was responsible for the coverage, so perhaps Utley could forward Torrance his wedding insurance claims for guests that were ‘missing in action’?

Peekin’ at Deakin with an AXA to grind

As you will all know from my columns, I’m a well-connected man. So let me update you on AXA’s search for a commercial boss. I recently hinted that Towergate deputy group chief executive Amanda Blanc and Willis chief executive Brendan McManus were in the firing line, but it seems they were difficult fish to pull out of the pond. Now, I hear Aviva broker director Janice Deakin is a target. Bagging Deakin would be sweet revenge for AXA, having lost previous commercial director Ant Middle to Aviva. Deakin is so pro-Aviva she’s thought to have yellow blood flowing through her veins; but it’s a big job for a strong character, so she could be tempted. Stranger things have happened. Watch this space for updates.

A Roo awakening

Spare a thought for Paul Barnard of Towergate. The motor manager has been getting grief from his staff after I revealed last week that an insurance broker named Paul Barnard had consoled Coleen Rooney on holiday in Dubai. I’m reliably informed, however, that the person in question was actually Paul Barnard, a director with Thamesbank Insurance Services. I apologise to the Towergate Barnard – being associated with a famous, pretty WAG can’t be easy.

Riot? What riot?

Those student rioters are a funny old lot – nice, middle-class kids who’d be more at home on my dad’s country estate than rampaging through the streets of London in Che Guevara T-shirts. But ‘nice’ isn’t how Towers Watson bosses would have described last week’s bedlam. As the consultancy’s directors put the finishing touches to acquiring EMB, they could barely get out of their offices. But, then, when did rioting stand in the way of a good deal? Despite the chaos, the deal was signed without any hitches.


Next month, Marsh is installing a scrum machine in its offices to mark it becoming official broker of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and sponsor of the RFU’s community rugby programme. It got me thinking what my perfect insurance scrum would be. I’d have Willis boss Joe Plumeri as prop – a feisty little fella with a big voice – hooking his arms round the no-nonsense pair of Heath Lambert’s Adrian Colosso and Towergate chief executive Andy Homer. In second row, I’d have Groupama’s tall powerhouse, Francois-Xavier Boisseau, then entrepreneur John McLaren-Stewart as flanker – a fleet-footed athlete who’d get away from the scrum quickly. It goes without saying that the bulldozing frame of Ink chief Mike Smith would firmly drive this lot from the number 8 position, with boss Chris Giles as scrum half – keeping a careful eye on the pack so that it doesn’t break up too quickly. What a team, eh?

Mushy peas are on me

Hiscox chief Bronek Masojada threw a ‘passport party’ recently to celebrate gaining British citizenship. I wasn’t invited, but I’d like to congratulate the South African champ on joining this great island of ours. If ever he fancies coming round to my place for a bite, I’d be honoured. Just let me know if it’s biltong or fish and chips. IT