Despite the traditional antics associated with today’s date, the Insider’s tales are all true, honest

I was talking to a few pals in the industry this week about their best April Fool’s pranks. Turns out there have been quite a few, and some I can assure you are not for printing. But I can share my personal favourite with you. When the current boss of Lorega, John Sims, first started out in the industry as a 17-year-old, wet behind the ears Lloyd's broker, he was sent out by his peers to carry out an important task. The date was 1 April and the task was to place libel insurance cover for Private Eye. You have to feel sorry for him, but it still makes me snigger.

‘Give me an L! Give me a V!’

The race is on for the most enticing stall at this year’s Biba conference. Last year, it was all about crazy tunnels, ice creams and video games. One contender out in front for best stand this year is LV=. Not only will there be a tasty selection of drinks on offer at the bar, but also some great eye candy. I’m told the cheerleaders for Harlequin Rugby Club will be on show, cutting some delightful shapes. I’m guessing there’ll be no shortage of brokers propping up the bar, pretending not to be enthralled.

Ellis is hot property

Many of us have wondered how Grant Ellis has been using the tidy sum that he made following the sale of Broker Network to Towergate a couple of years ago. I got a glimpse the other day, when I was chewing the fat at Broker Network’s Knaresborough HQ. Ellis revealed that he has been dabbling in property development. The network’s chairman said he has taken over a plot from a distressed housebuilder, which he is now completing. And he is planning to turn a derelict house in a nearby village into an eco-home that will meet the highest green construction standards. But the likes of Barratt Homes can rest easy: after these projects are finished, Ellis says he has no plans to take on any more.

Quality costs

At least one customer – not apparently ex-Formula One ace Sir Jackie Stewart – will be aware of the value of insurance this week after Aviva’s record pay-out to the owner of the Pagani Zonda damaged in a crash near Aberdeen last September. The Zonda had to be sent back to Modena, Italy, where it had been manufactured, for repairs. An Aviva spokesman acknowledged that the £300,000 claim was “out of the ordinary”. Well, it puts your average bump on a Mondeo into context …

Field of dreams

It’s not often that Biba is able to help a grown man fulfil a boyhood dream. However, following its Forum last week, delegates were treated to a guided tour of the Manchester City stadium where the event had been held. Ushered into the club’s press conference room, one broker mounted the rostrum to take the manager’s seat. Roll over Roberto Mancini; step forward Colin Lees of Lymm Insurance Brokers, who surveyed the room with a suitably steely glint in his eye.

No more double dates

Adam Baker, the promoter of new industry website Insurance Connected, has highlighted a serious issue for the broking community: having to be at two, or sometimes more, social events at once. He explains: “Insurers spend a great deal of time and money to set up events for brokers, only for them to clash with other insurer events or sporting fixtures.” To remedy this sorry state of affairs, the new site will contain an events calendar, where insurers will be able to log what functions they are throwing and when. With the new facility, there will be no excuse for double-booking jollies. Let the good times roll! IT