Avenue Insurance Services is broker's first online household venture

Barbon Insurance Group is ramping up its personal lines offering by launching a household business on the aggregator websites.

The new venture, called Avenue Insurance Services, will focus on household insurance products, and will include niche risks such as holiday homes and listed buildings.

Barbon already brokers accommodation policies, but Avenue is its first internet-based personal lines offering.

Chief executive Martin Oliver said his experience running Kwik-Fit, which offered products on price comparison sites, was a “great learning ground” on which he could draw.

Avenue will be run from the group’s Glasgow-based operation and is to be launched in the first quarter of next year.

Oliver said the personal lines space on aggregator sites was very competitive, but the key to success was offering ancillary services, keeping costs down through wholly online transactions, and sticking to niche products.

He explained: “Our research shows that price comparison sites are still short of products in some of these areas.

“We are currently talking to specialist underwriters and offering unique business terms that ensure transparency and alignment.”

Oliver did not forecast any downturn in the growth of price comparison sites.

He said: “They are here to stay and they will keep on growing as far as I can see in the future. You have to be prepared to play the game and play it better than the next guy.”

He warned that the motor market on price comparison sites was a “bloodbath”, however, and said he had no immediate plans to enter the space.

Barbon’s gross written premium is around £150m, mainly derived from commercial lines business.