The Insider looks at what Andy Haste can do if things go sour, gives three cheers to Bertie Hiscox and looks forward to a brandy

Wing commander Cullum, are you listening? I’m hearing from my spies that your Towergate troops have recently been getting up to some strange antics during 70th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Britain. Apparently, sales staff across Towergate talked to each other in air force lingo, had one or two aviator-themed after-work parties and strangely enough, brought a sheep into the office. The sheep was eventually auctioned by Towergate staff. Now I’m, a keen historian, but I can’t ever remember sheep playing a crucial role in defeating the Nazi air threat. Looks like their facts are a bit woolly, I’m afraid.

No Cox here: it’s cricket, not rowing old chap

To the Brit Oval and the first day of last week’s Test match between England and Pakistan just happened to coincide with Brit’s appointment of Ray Cox as its UK chief executive. It was too soon for my old pal Ray to make an appearance in front of eager hacks on the roof terrace. Brit’s Simon Cooter was there, though, if slightly overshadowed by X-Factor host Dermot O’Leary. Rumours that Cooter was spotted trying to convince the telly presenter that he and Cox could be the new Ant and Dec are as yet unconfirmed.

Always an option, Andy

So, you’re Andy Haste, you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you’re determined to do a deal that will put the seal on your legacy. If you can’t force Aviva’s hand, what can you do? Well, how’s this for an idea? Perhaps Haste could do worse than pocket a consolidator – it would increase RSA’s clout in the sought-after SME market, and if he picked one with a big MGA business, it would up its underwriting footprint too. Peter Cullum’s phone number, anyone?

Go for it, Bertie, put one on ’em

Three cheers for my old chum Bertie Hiscox, who can always be relied on to stick it to the snooty investment bankers. Insurance companies tend to get a raw deal on the stock market (can’t think why – surely can’t be to do with the sudden swings from profit to loss) but our Bertie has jolly well had enough of it. “The insurance industry has behaved bloody well,” he said, pointing to the fact that insurers have left the structured products that broke the banks well alone. He came unstuck, however, when he added that the industry hadn’t had a big casualty – apart from AIG – and needed recognition for this. Hate to point this out, old bean, but maybe the AIG bit is the problem.

Cherry brandy at Arista

Happy days are here again for Charles Earle. Since founding Arista, Earle has sworn he won’t touch a drop of the hard stuff till the business turns a profit. As Insurance Times reports this week, he’s now anticipating raking in £200,000-plus for this full year. Charles, the brandies are on you.

Late break, anyone?

And I could do with that drink. What a month it has been. Usually, I look forward to August as an excuse to unwind a bit. But this year, my attentions have been brought unseasonably and abruptly back to the office. With the early August results and then RSA’s audacious swoop on Aviva, it’s been a thoroughly active month. I may have to take a holiday in September to get over it all …

My right uninsured friend

And finally, I’m always delighted to see our, ahem, masters at Westminster set a good example. So, I was especially pleased to see Yasmin Qureshi MP banned from driving for having no car insurance. Qureshi was hauled over by the boys in blue for using her mobile phone. They then discovered that she had had no valid insurance documents. The Bolton South East MP protested that she thought she was covered at the time, but the beak took no notice and handed down a six-month ban. Order, order! IT