CGU staff will be working at weekends to help clear substantial work backloads in the company's claims departments. They will be assisted by a new central pool of staff, which is being deployed to help regional offices. And in order to clear the work as quickly as possible, staff will be offered incentive payments to put matters right.
The move reflects the high priority CGU is putting on getting its house in slicker order – and also comes in response to mounting broker and intermediary anger at the problems they have encountered in recent months,
A CGU spokeswoman said this week: "We have successfully completed the physical aspects of the merger and although we have never lost sight of the importance of our brokers, we are aware that our service delivery in some areas is not what they have come to expect of us.
"We are addressing this in a number of positive ways: we have begun a national service improvement campaign which focuses our staff on clearing outstanding work over the next few weeks, including weekends. The objective is to restore claims service in the affected areas before Christmas."
CGU will also be looking at changing its working methods within claims areas to become more efficient. This includes a new system for forecasting work activity, and making best use of central resources. And it is also taking on new staff in areas where there are shortages. Some of these new staff will be re-filling positions that were cut in the job losses resulting from its merger.
"We are confident that over the next few weeks our brokers will see a substantial improvement in claims service," the spokeswoman said.
CGU's move will please brokers and intermediaries. They have made plain their frustrations in a flood of letters to Insurance Times following last week's story on Biba chairman Simon Bolam.
Bolam said he too has been inundated by broker responses. "It has been quite staggering how many have been in touch," he told Insurance Times. "Until now, the issue has been kept under wraps as brokers have been talking to companies and moaning individually."
Ken Wallace, business development director at Norwich Union, conceded this week that some brokers have not been getting the levels of service they ought. "Some of our intermediaries have received service which is not up to the normal high standards we would want," he told Insurance Times.
He said the complaints were from smaller personal lines brokers whose business dealings with Norwich Union are mainly telephone based. Unlike some of its competitors, Norwich dealt with a large number of smaller intermediaries and there had been a substantial increase in referrals from them since rates had begun hardening. Larger brokers, especially those with full cycle EDI, tended to be able to deal with client queries without having to ring Norwich.
"We're seeing an increased level of broker activity in the market and maybe if this continues we need to review our agency policy in respect of some of the smaller intermediaries."
He rejected suggestions that the London and Edinburgh acquisition was to blame. "We've invested in technology and added staff and that has meant a massive training programme for those people. I would expect service standards to improve in the near future."
The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association also entered the debate. "Insurance company mergers have certainly contributed to repairer company closures. Some insurance companies' head office arrogance is apparent and they are out of touch with what's going on," the association said in a statement.