The Insider makes do with some home comforts as he catches up on the whereabouts of stranded industry heads

The list of insurer folk left stranded by the volcano has stretched into the recesses of the ABI. The association’s phones were blazing with calls early this week from media and insurers wanting up-to-date info. But the man-in-the-know wasn’t there. Public pointman Malcolm Tarling was stuck in Rome unable to get back to the ash-shrouded UK. I can’t help but think the ABI top brass was ready to erupt.

Treading water in foreign climes

Not even the trade bodies could fight their way out of the volcanic ash cloud. Among the 150,000 Britons thought to be stranded abroad are Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith. He’s languishing in Antigua (poor thing), raising fears as to whether he’ll make Biba’s conference next month. However, a spokesman tells me that he’ll be there, even if he has to sail home!

Meanwhile, the Institute of Insurance Brokers’ Barbara Bradshaw is holed up in Shanghai and is not expected to return for possibly another week. Closer to home, Chartered Insurance Institute chief executive Sandy Scott gave up struggling to get a plane or train back from Scotland, and went fishing instead. Other casualties include MCE’s Michael Edwards in France, Markerstudy’s Kevin Spencer in Dubai, and James Hallam managing director Paul Anscombe in the USA.

But at least one got through. Alex Marcuson, assistant actuarial partner at Deloitte, was in Zurich when the skies shut. But he needed to get back to the UK by the weekend for a very pressing event – his daughter’s birthday party. Sensing that the cloud was unlikely to lift, he hired a car to drive to Paris and then managed to secure a ticket on the Eurostar. He was home 16 hours after leaving Zurich. Not bad, all things considered …

Half-empty or half-full?

Let’s hope that Eyjafjallajokull will have stopped erupting by June, when the World Cup kicks off. Broker Network chairman Grant Ellis certainly will be. This week’s Insurance Times interviewee is planning to spend the tournament at his luxurious seaside home in South Africa. And, with several friends accepting his invitation to stay, Ellis will have quite a houseful. Game on!

Biba’s got talent …

It’s been a busy time for the industry since the ash cloud descended. I was flicking through the TV channels the other night and spotted Biba’s Graeme Trudgill giving his all on Sky News. That’s on top of his appearances on the BBC and national newspapers. I’m hearing his new nickname down at Biba HQ is Troy McClure, made famous for his line in The Simpsons: “You might remember me from such films as …” But speculation that Trudgill has issued a list of diva-like demands, including a new office with his name in a gold star on the door is, as yet, unconfirmed.

A bitter bill

More insurance industry top brass are catching on to the iPhone craze. But spare a thought for Alphatec director David Grier. He was more than a little surprised to get a £900 phone bill on his return from a trip to France. The software firm boss blamed his many applications for wracking up the bill. Surely there’s an app for that? IT