Trade body Biba this week awarded its massive travel insurance scheme to CNA Insurance (Europe) after Assitalia, the scheme's previous insurer, quit the UK.

The package is thought to be one of the biggest of its kind within the UK market. The product was developed on a bespoke basis for Biba broker members with 300 of them currently selling the product.

A spokeswoman for Biba said: "The scheme was extraordinarily successful under Assitalia, and their withdrawal required us to take immediate action."

The scheme, which has won the Which? best travel insurance policy for the past four years, remains exactly the same as it was under Assitalia.

The move follows on the heels of news that CNA Insurance Company (Europe) is to merge with its sister company, Maritime Insurance.

The combined operation is seeking "significant" growth in the UK general insurance market with plans to have an annual gross written premium of £160m in 2001.

Last year the two companies wrote £92m of business, £57m of which came through the Maritime account.

This year, the CNA Europe account is expected to nearly double in size to £57m, with Maritime's business also up to £63m.

In America, CNA is predominately a commercial lines insurer. The merger of CNA Europe and Maritime Insurance is expected to take place in July next year.