QBE’s former property boss heads off to the sun while Lloyd’s staff come clean about their iPad habits

We’re only a month in but its already been one hell of a year for Towergate bosses Peter Cullum and Andy Homer. After weeks of negotiations, they’re about to sign off a £200m deal with their new private equity backer Advent, not to mention sort out their banking arrangements and raise tens of millions on the corporate bond market. So my pals at Insurance Times put their investigative powers to work to find out just why Cullum & Homer chose Advent from their many eager suitors. It didn’t take them long to discover that just two weeks ago Advent took a stake in celeb hangout and luxury rehab clinic The Priory. Given that Cullum and Homer are now tied in to active service at Towergate for years to come, perhaps they have a discounted holiday home in mind?

Caribbean capers for Mageean?

Following Bernard Mageean’s departure from QBE last year, I’m sure that many of you are wondering where he’ll be looking next. His pedigree will endear him to many City insurers, but one rumour puts him slightly further afield. Barbados, to be precise. One friend whispers that Mageean is planning a long holiday in the sun before worrying about a job.

Getting shirty

Down at Lloyd’s, it seems that some wags can’t resist quips about Aon’s alleged plan to eke out an extra 3.5% from underwriters. I was chatting with one underwriter over lunch in Mincing Lane the other day about whether the man on the Clapham omnibus could distinguish the current logo on Manchester United shirts from the previous one, given that both had three letters, both began with A and both were, to the public at least, obscure insurance firms. The Lloyd’s chap piped up: “I’ll bet they can because of the extra 3.5% on the season ticket price.” Cheeky.

A bite of the Apple

As you’ll know from last week, iPads got a bit of a frosty reception in the Lloyd’s underwriting room. I know, I know. It’s Lloyd’s – where the thought of steam power still sends chills down its collective back, much less something with a touchscreen. However, it seems that many Lloyd’s practitioners can’t get enough of Apple’s little miracle. When I saw Graham Clarke at Miller recently, he announced – unprompted – that he had one and I’ve just had an email from Michael Watson at Canopius bearing the tell-tale legend ‘sent from my iPad’. So it appears that Lloyd’s loves them. Just not for work.

Whose court is the ball in?

Meanwhile, the claim for compensation over retired association footballer Dean Ashton continues to amaze me. His old club, West Ham, is now understood to be considering suing the FA for £10.5m. It believes that it owes them an £8m insurance payout and the £2.5m it paid Ashton when he was crocked while on England duty. Insurers, of which I believe there are three, have refused to pay the claim because Ashton made a playing comeback before retiring in December 2009, but it is thought that he did not actually breach the terms of his insurance. So what happens next? Legal experts tell me the case is "unique" and “complex”, and not to expect any decisions soon …

Cheque your facts

And finally, many brokers have tales of brassy attitudes from high street banking staff. But one I heard this week is particularly impressive. A broker recently walked into his local bank to withdraw a counter cheque. As the assistant passed the cheque over, he saw an opportunity not to be missed. “Can I quote you for your home insurance sir?” the assistant asked. The broker pointed to the counter cheque, which had the name of his brokerage clearly written on it, and replied: “No thank you, I’m an insurance broker.” The broker turned to walk away, but the assistant didn’t miss a beat. “Not a problem sir. When is it due for renewal? I’ll give you a ring.” IT