Decision was amicable and not driven by business quality, says commercial managing director Keating

QBE will completely withdraw as a capacity provider from UK General in June after pulling out of the underwriting agency’s commercial motor business in October last year.

Lloyd’s insurer Catlin will step in as the capacity provider for three years on UK General’s non-motor commercial book and the commercial portfolio of the underwriting agency’s Rural Insurance agricultural subsidiary.

The news comes amid growing talk in the market that QBE is retrenching in the UK following losses at group level.

UK General commercial managing director Mike Keating told Insurance Times: “We had a good relationship with QBE and the decision was amicable.

“But with any managing general agency/capacity provider relationship you constantly have to ensure that your objectives are aligned. We felt that Catlin was a far better fit for UK General’s rural and non-motor commercial  portfolios and there was a far greater alignment with objectives.”

He said, for example, that Catlin lacks a regional presence and UK General can provide the Lloyd’s insurer with distribution in the UK.

Keating also stressed that QBE’s decision to withdraw was not driven by the quality of the business written through UK General. He said: “There is nothing wrong with the performance of the business. It is just a better strategic fit.”

Ageas replaced QBE as the capacity provider for UK General’s commercial motor business in October. The new deal with Catlin does not affect the arrangement with Ageas.

Catlin’s group chief underwriting officer Paul Brand said: “We are delighted to enter into this partnership, which will provide UK General with high-quality capacity and products. The partnership will allow Catlin to diversify further our distribution capabilities in the UK.”

The news comes as brokers report that QBE is getting tougher on UK regional business.

The company is planning to write £354m of UK gross written premium (GWP) in 2014, after writing £414m in 2013.

But QBE’s UK national general manager Eliot Miller denied that the company is retrenching in the UK. He said the GWP cutback was because of “a change of structure within the UK and Ireland division and internal reorganisation of where business sits”.

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