The Insider reports from the sidelines at Twickenham and reflects on Patrick Snowball’s success Down Under

First to Wales, where there is a wicked rumour doing the rounds. Apologies if you’ve heard this one already, and apologies too to Lyndon ‘the only ego in the village’ Wood if it isn’t strictly true (perhaps you can let us know either way, sir?). But if you haven’t come across this little gem already, it goes something like this. Apparently, Lyndon plans to fuel prospects of ‘hypergrowth’ within his broker Moorhouse by acquiring a new title for himself. ‘Lord Lyndon Wood of Moorhouse’ is what I hear he is now called in the valleys … or is that just in the local boozer with his pals? Sorry Lyndon, couldn’t resist. If you’re actually not a Lord, perhaps it’s a serious next step to accelerate the momentum?

Young packs his bucket and spade

To Twickenham for England v Wales, and while Fortis chief executive and host Barry Smith totted up the sweepstake, the boys from Caerphilly broker Thomas Carroll were weeping into their pints as England romped to victory (well, they won). It was also great to see rugby fanatic Douglas Young out to play. The Scotsman assured my pals at Insurance Times that he was there only to soak up the England performance before the Calcutta Cup in a couple of weeks. But I hear that he has now finished his life as a James Bond-style agent for very secretive and selective clients, to embark on a new career down in Poole heading up local broker Colemans.

Off his trolley?

I’ve met a few unhappy claimants in my time; after all, we don’t always get what we want from our insurers. But nothing compares to one man in Australia last week, who blew up an insurance office. He wheeled a trolley loaded with petrol-soaked fireworks into TIO’s Darwin office and set if off, injuring 13 people. He was later described as a “dissatisfied claimant”. Forget the corporate speak – “lunatic” would have been more appropriate.

Fair dinkum performance

A little more Australian news from my good friend, who I miss dearly, Patrick Snowball. It seems the former Aviva boss didn’t just go to Australia to enjoy the yachting and top up his tan. He’s actually doing a rather decent job at Suncorp. The part-bank, part-insurance firm has had its debt rating upgraded to A+. When Patrick arrived last September, there was lots of talking about selling the loan-stressed banking business, but Patrick had other ideas. It’s now looking better after fresh capitalisation. On top of that, the insurance arm is running pretty smoothly. Is it time for a little celebration Patrick – why don’t you throw another shrimp on the barbie, cobber?

A legend in his own lunchtime?

It’s not often I do this. But today I issue “Keating watch”. Axa personal lines boss Mike Keating is known for being a “Goodfella” and I’m told by one of his friends, while a little tired and emotional I accept, that his brand of corporate entertaining is now becoming legendary. Let me know …

Banking crisis? That’s so yesterday

Finally, it seems the banking crisis was all yesterday’s talk. Now all the chatter is about “sovereign debt defaults” or, in simple terms, countries going bust. In Greece alone, Allianz is thought to have €3.6bn (£3.15bn) in bond exposure, Fortis €3.15bn and Munich Re about €1.5bn. More to the point, if Greece goes down, think what it will do to the rest of the state-bond market, something that insurers readily plough investments into as a safe bet. IT