Insurers seeks growth through expanding distribution channels

Co-operative Insurance Services (CIS) has added another channel to its distribution network by joining the AA's motor insurance panel.

The deal is the third development in a year that has seen the insurer extend its affinity business and start selling through banking partner, the Co-op Bank.

Mervyn Pedelty, chief executive of Co-operative Financial Services, CIS parent company, said: "We are delighted to be joining the AA's panel, which currently has 22 underwriters. This is an important development for CIS and is one of a number of strategic moves designed to grow CIS business."

The new distribution channel, which will go live on New Year's Day, will run in parallel with the company's traditional home service approach.

Pedelty said: "We remain fully committed to our home service approach but we also intend to develop our product range and extend the channels by which we deliver them to a reach a wider customer base.

"This agreement may prove a model for other such partnerships in the future."

The diversification strategy has seen the number of CIS motor policies rise from 80,000 in 1999 to 1.2 million last year, representing a premium income of £445m.

The new deal will put CIS policies, with their bias towards ethical business, in direct competition with policies from the 22 other insurers on the AA's motoring panel.

AA Insurance Services managing director Andrew Briscoe said: "We are delighted that CIS will be joining the AA as a partner on our car insurance panel. We constantly strive to improve our competitiveness in order to better serve our customers and CIS will help us to achieve this. They are highly regarded and we are looking forward to a successful partnership."