The insider probes the Aspen ‘romance’, hears that underwriters don’t need publicity and gets excited over network rumours

With a judgment from the European Court of Justice looming that could spell the end for gender risk-based insurance pricing, Sheilas’ Wheels is not content with fighting the good fight for insured female drivers from little ol’ London. The pinkmobile is hitting the road next month, bound for Brussels to bang on the doors of some influential MEPs. Make sure the hood is down, ladies! You could alternate the Sheilas’ Wheels theme with a reworked version of The Beatles’ hit Baby You Can Drive My Car. Beep-beep, beep-beep, yeah!

Workin’ 9-5 (what a way to make a Levene)

That Lord Levene is a busy man. As if being chairman of Lloyd’s isn’t enough, he is also on the committee that will scrutinise the big accountancy firms and their role in the financial crisis. Representatives from Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG face being questioned by the House of Lords economic affairs committee. Levene will rub shoulders with other notable bigwigs, including former chancellor Lord Lawson. He has also taken on the chairmanship of the Defence Reform Unit for one day a month. Talk about no rest of the wicked.

Catlin makes ’em wait

Talking of busy men, my friends at Insurance Times were told they would have to wait up to a year to meet Catlin Underwriting chief executive Stephen Catlin. Furthermore, Catlin, that mighty Lloyd’s titan, told them: “We don’t need publicity.” Obviously, this was a devastating rebuke, and my chums will be watching their calendars closely, ticking off the hours and days over the next 12 months. After all, the best things come to those who wait.

Is it a bird? No, it’s supernet

I’m never one to ignore a good rumour, so I was interested to hear a tidbit from one of my good broking pals. He told me about a “network of networks”. This shadowy organisation would apparently unite several existing broker networks under one banner, combining 2,500 brokers and giving members added clout in the marketplace. My friend informs me that several network bosses were approached with this proposition earlier this year. Such an organisation would be powerful indeed, and would no doubt cause headaches for many insurers. Would the broker networks ever be able to pull together to make it feasible? I gather some network bosses oppose the idea, but then again, you never know. Watch this space!

A meal and wine … and I’m yours

Rupert Villers announced he was stepping down from the position of Aspen UK chief executive in September to take on a part-time role, but a mere two weeks later, he was back in the fray. This time he had a wingman in the form of Aspen board member John Cavoores. Intrigued by this about-face, I asked how this new co-chief executive set-up came about. Cavoores said he spent more than a week wooing Villers back to Aspen’s forefront. “This marriage came about when I took Rupert out for a nice meal and some wine.” Who said romance was dead?

Never Bordeaux of claret

Still on Rupert here, we had a bit of a chinwag recently and I got to know the man. I was thinking that he looked like a chap who would enjoy a round of golf, or a Sunday drive to the Cotswolds, so I enquired: “Rupert, good fellow, what do you like to do with your spare time?” He thought for a second, before answering thoughtfully: “Claret.” IT