Poor service levels blamed for end to 14-year relationship

Bristol & West looks set to replace Norwich Union (NU) with Zurich as its general insurance supplier, severing a 14-year relationship amid reports of poor service levels.

Bristol & West group general insurance product head Rob Ewan confirmed the mortgage provider was in talks with Zurich over the provision of home and creditor insurance.

He said he was "hopeful" the talks would lead to a deal, which would "potentially" lead to the severance of ties with NU.

Ewan said Bristol & West regularly reviewed its panel to ensure it was providing a competitive service.

However, sources said poor service levels from NU were the root of the split.

Ewan said he had looked at a number of insurers before settling on Zurich.

He said the potential deal would cover the provision of insurance to Bristol & West's new mortgage holders and possibly the transfer of the existing book.

He was unable to say how many customers this could affect.

Zurich already provides Bristol & West customers with life insurance, ISA and pension products

London & Edinburgh, now part of NU, provided Bristol & West's home and creditor insurance for the past 14 years.

London & Edinburgh's headquarters were in Worthing. Last week Insurance Times reported that staff at NU's corporate partners department in Worthing, which handles affinity deals with large corporations, were frustrated by the low levels of customer service they could provide.

Their discontent was revealed in documents leaked from focus groups at the department.

NU confirmed its relationship with Bristol & West was under review, but said no date had been set for the review's completion.

Zurich said it was in discussions with Bristol & West and would not release further information until discussions were concluded.