Poor staff. Poor brokers. And poor customers. Those were surely most people's thoughts when the creation of CGNU, the UK's largest general insurer, was announced on Monday.

The 5,000 who will lose their jobs - 4,000 in the UK - are the £18 billion merger's most obvious victims. But there are many more whose work and family lives will be made miserable by the two companies being crunched together. Months of anxious uncertainty lie ahead as staff await their fate.

Then, the remaining teams have to make the merger work. As they will know from their own experiences at CGU and Norwich Union, this is a gruelling, frustrating and broker-alienating process. It will not be fun.

Getting this far with the old mergers at their respective companies has already taken a severe toll of many staff. To quote one insider: "Many of the staff are knackered or brain-dead, or both, from their efforts to make the mergers work. In some ways, they're past caring what happens now. The soul has gone out of the job. All the vision and hard work seem wasted."

Clearly, galvanising demoralised staff presents a major management exercise for CGNU's bosses. And so too does the task of keeping brokers and intermediaries on-side.

CGU's Bob Scott is trying to allay fears by saying this merger will be easier and smoother than the CU-GA merger because there are fewer branches involved, and because much of the hard work has already been done. "Every possible effort will be made to maintain service standards."

Fine words. But they would carry more conviction if CGNU was prepared to reimburse brokers and intermediaries for some of the disruption costs they now face.

It would also help convince consumers, particularly commercial customers, that their interests counted for more.

For brokers, the only positive news is that CGNU's market dominance (20% market share and more in some sectors) should add real momentum to driving up rates - and raising total commission.

That said, with broker choice reduced yet again, CGNU may not feel too pressured to share the spoils with its partners.

In fact, despite its dominance, it may not have much fresh spoil to share at all. Peter Wood's dramatic re-emergence, this time with internet insurance at Halifax, poses a major threat to traditional insurers trying to push up their rates.

Its these intensifying price pressures which make reducing operating costs so vital for insurers like CGU and Norwich Union.

The £250 million annual cost savings achieved by CGNU show why mergers appeal so much to insurers' shareholders.

And that these days, as brokers at the sharp end of the merger process must ruefully conclude, is all that matters.