Brokers are stemming the tide of customers moving business to direct writers, says ABI

Personal lines brokers have stemmed the flow of business towards the direct channel, according to figures from the ABI.

Intermediaries are maintaining market share for household insurance and have slowed the drift towards the direct suppliers in motor by selling on advice rather than price.

Norwich Union director of intermediary support Greg Gladwell said: "We are definitely seeing the broker market fighting back. Motor figures have slowed down and the household figures have held static."

Gladwell cited two examples of recent successes by brokers as examples of how the intermediaries can win over direct suppliers.

He said: "With the AXA Direct book going to RAC and then through the BDML panel, and Budget winning the Marks and Spencer account there is real evidence of broker success."

Gladwell gave two reasons for the turn around in the broker market. First, customers who bought purely on price had probably already gone to the direct channel. Second, the strength of the commercial market guaranteed a steady stream of business into the personal sector.

He said: "A lot of the people who were shopping on price are now in the price driven channels. The people who are left in the broker channel are those who prefer advice driven service and there are some customers returning to the channel."

Gladwell predicted (see graph, left) that brokers would maintain most of their market share over the next few years.

He said: "From our point of view internally we have seen double digit percentage growth in our household account and we are forecasting growth once again next year. There is plenty of room for optimism, especially around household, while the rate of decrease has slowed down in motor."