It was the city of Manchester’s turn to have its hotels and conference centre turned into one giant insurance holiday camp this year, and the brokers of Biba sure did not disappoint. The week began with a nasty public scrap between Heath Lambert and Groupama.

Apparently there is no such thing as original thought, but try telling that to les garcons after Heath Lambert announced a new slogan, which turned out to be identical to that of the French insurer, which unfortunately for Heath it has trademarked. Heath’s communications director, Elliot Lane, (normally not one to shy away from the public gaze) was notable by his absence within the corridors of the conference. Reports that Heath Lambert’s chief executive Adrian Collosso had Lane’s head in a vice over the weekend are, as yet, unconfirmed.

A welcome return

It was fantastic to see RSA’s Paul Donaldson return to the public life for a day following a lengthy lay off due to a heart operation. Following a brief public appearance at the RSA stand Donaldson waited for the RSA evening dinner to demonstrate that he hasn’t lost his sense of humour. “Enough of the corporate b***,” he told the crowd. “We’ve got plenty of booze, so just relax.”

Editor goes snooker loopy

The CII’s pool table went down a storm with the delegates with world-ranked number four snooker player Mark Selby seeing off an almost never-ending supply of contenders at the table. Insurance Times editor Tom Broughton gave him a real run for his money and even had one shot to fell the Goliath, however Selby came back strongly and finished him off in some style.

With an earlier night and soft drinks on the stand instead of stacks of booze, I’m sure things could have ended very differently.

Run for your life

It’s not just The Beatles-swinging Graham Cave who has rhythm at claims body CILA. President Angus Tucker was a little more than paranoid after being followed around the conference hall by the opening night band. Next time Angus, just grin and bear it, and give us a tune.

Back from the ban

What a difference a year makes. At last year’s conference he was banned from the building. But this year he just couldn’t resist, could he?

Former AXA chief executive Peter Hubbard was snapped looking very fresh faced and sharp on the AXA stand with a number of his former colleagues. But in case you are worried, Hubbard will continue to keep one step away from the business.

Bet you look good on the dancefloor

Meanwhile, away from the conference fray down in the dungeons of Le Tasca restaurant in Deansgate there was an evening of tapas, vino and salsa dancing hosted by insurer Provident.

Led by its own Hispanic bullfighter in advertising manager Daniel Tena-Mullor, the Insurance Times team dazzled the dance floor with a series of moves reserved only for a Biba conference.

Thanks for an excellent evening guys. IT

Rival schools of thought come together

When do rivals become friends? When they have a common cause. Maybe that explains why Oval boss Phillip Hodson, Chris Giles and Peter Cullum were seen chatting together in Manchester.

The three consolidator kings were huddled in a group by the Fortis bar at the Biba conference. Do you think they were slapping each other on the back and reminiscing over the good times? Hardly.

Far be it from me to say, but I will anyway because I’m a bit of a stirrer, wink, wink – but could they have been hatching a plan? All three have had to swallow the ‘get tough’ line from the insurers over commissions. But if they all took a stand together, with their powerful market share, might they force a climbdown?

Ah well – perhaps they were just catching up over a drink.