The Insider brings you breaking news from Allianz, while AXA proves there’s an app for just about anything

They say Christmas is the time to eat, drink and be merry. But at Allianz Commerical I hear they’re now adding ‘break a leg’ to that list after the boss, Chris Hanks, had a little accident last month. Apparently, Hanks – or ‘Calamity Hanks’ as they’re now calling him in the broker market – was on a ladder attempting to hang lights on a tree in his garden when he slipped and fell. The result: a broken fibula and Christmas in plaster. Hanks can now be seen hobbling around Allianz HQ in Guildford after begrudgingly calling off his new year holiday to South Africa. Speculation that Hanks was in fact dressed as a fairy and poised for the top of a fir tree is as yet unconfirmed.

Dented bumper? There's an app for that

AXA is jumping on the iPhone bandwagon with the launch of a new application to help insurance claims. The app guides motorists through what to do in case of an accident. Now, taking down insurance details may not seem like rocket science to you and me, but it seems the public aren’t so clever. AXA says only a third of customers are completely competent in knowing what to do in case of an accident. So don’t laugh, that app might come in pretty useful to the average driver.

All bets are on

Thanks to all those on Facebook who wished me a happy birthday. I can confirm that, on 1 January 2010, not only did we all enter into a new decade, but so did I. Would you believe it, I’ve turned 50! In response to my Facebook pal Sarah Sloan’s message, I can confirm that the bet with my son has been extended for a further six months, with a new condition that if I lose not only does he get a spin in my Bentley, but also one week’s use of my villa in Monte Carlo. So the Bentley is safe for now, I just need to add a few more Facebook friends to beat him. Find me under the alias Backchat Insider.

It’s a family affair

I know that Towergate boss Andy Homer likes to see himself as a bit of a ‘cut and thrust’ dealmaker, having overseen a swathe of acquisitions during his nine years at the company. Now it seems we might have a chip off the old block. I’m hearing that his son, Oliver Homer, working for Aon Benfield Securities Ltd, played a crucial role in smoothing the path for Markerstudy to snap up motor insurer Zenith. Makerstudy chief executive Kevin Spencer said he was very pleased with young Homer’s work on the deal, adding: “I have to say that the Homers have bred a good pedigree. Very good – cleverer than his dad.” I’m sure Homer senior kept the Scrabble board firmly packed away over Christmas.

Handbags at dawn

It’s tough out there in the insurance world and battles for market share, especially during a recession, can get pretty dirty. So it brings a smile to my face to hear that is fighting the battle against other price comparison sites with handbags. The aggregator has just added Diamond Home to its list of insurance providers. As part of the exclusive agreement, Diamond will provide insurance cover for home emergency, keycare, legal protection and, naturally, handbags. says it’s adding a women’s touch to the world of aggregators. How lovely.

Who needs crystal balls?

And so to 2010, and one well-placed source tells me that, after a quiet 2009, this year is going to be the return of the buying market. Perhaps this will be the year when Chris Giles finally seals his transformational deal? Expect to see Oval start buying again, while Bluefin will be on the search for, as boss Stuart Reid puts it, “the small and beautifully formed”. Towergate will be back but not as loud, while sister company CCV will continue to grow. As for the new players, keep your eyes on Brightside and I hear Henderson is looking to throw up a few surprises. And don’t forget the Jelf ‘to sell or not to sell’ saga. Whatever happens, it should be interesting. Happy new year everyone. IT