I was interested to read the feature headed 'And they're off", regarding the growth of broker networks

(16, October, Insurance Times) and I was disappointed that your journalist failed to mention the commercial broking alliance COBRA, despite a reference to 'new players' - some of whom are not yet trading.

May I take this opportunity to remind you that COBRA was established in June this year with an initial combined premium income of £40m.

Conceived by Steve Burrows and myself, COBRA was set up with two key objectives - to provide independent insurance brokers with the ability to offer insurers a combined large business volume to secure improved rates and to be able to compete more effectively with other large national brokers.

In his article, Francis Higney raised both these points as potential issues for brokers considering joining a network. He is also correct in that many "independent brokers placing business in the traditional way are finding it increasingly difficult to compete".

As you know our industry is facing some major changes over the coming months and I wanted you to be fully aware of COBRA's philosophy so that your readers can take a properly informed decision in choosing which network to join. This is particularly important as the future of their business is at stake.

A key point to note is that COBRA members fully retain their independence while benefiting from a range of services that include training and the important issue of compliance.

Membership of COBRA is free and there are no annual charges. There is no requirement for members to change their IT platform (as long as they can use Word or Excel). COBRA provides its members with assistance with compliance and training free and their business independence is guaranteed.

Since launching in June, COBRA has attracted 20 independent commercial brokers as members in just three months - this rapid growth is, I believe, testimony to the different approach we have taken with the way we structured the alliance.

Our current members generate almost £100m in premium revenue and we have already secured a leading panel of insurers including Allianz Cornhill, AXA, NIG, Zenith and Zurich.

John Lincoln
Managing director
Commercial Broking Alliance

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