The Backchat Insider is horrified by an (unintentionally) dry bar at Ferma

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The million-dollar question
When pressed on the amount that insurers were receiving in referral fee payments at an ‘I Love Claims’ debate last week, the ABI’s Nick Starling said the figure was in the tens of millions, adding that it was not “a huge figure”. To paraphrase the old quip: “A few 10 million here, a few 10 million there, soon we’ll be talking real money!”

It’s only words
How many words would it take to describe the duties of a broker? A few thousand? Not for Robin Wood of Robin Wood Associates, who has clocked up around six million words on the subject. “That’s about 20 full-sized novels,” he explained.  

Sticks and stones
Never underestimate the sticking power of a good nickname. Those with better memories than me may recall Insurance Times’s ever-subtle Saxon East referring to Lonmar boss Simon Rice as a “bulldozer of a man” in a 2010 interview. It turns out this rather tickled Simon’s peers and rivals, who still refer to him as ‘The Dozer’.

Flights of fancy
Insurer stalls at conferences just keep getting more elaborate. ACE Insurance’s stand at the Ferma exhibition in Stockholm was kitted out as a replica airport lounge, complete with Swedish air hostesses to take care of the throng of visitors. “It wasn’t our idea,” one of the ACE team told me. “We are just ‘facilitating’.”

In the red corner …
It’s interesting that Andy Homer has recently been appointed Biba chairman, especially considering that ex-Towergate heir Amanda Blanc is deputy president nominate over at the CII. The first time they lock horns could prove exceptionally fiery. We’ll be watching closely.

Don’t sweat it
Things got more than a tad heated during last week’s ABI fringe meeting on the compensation culture at last week’s Labour conference. But the heat wasn’t just generated by the debate, it was literally sweltering in the tiny but packed meeting room venue at Liverpool’s conference. The meeting’s chair suggested tongue-in-cheek that there could be some health and safety issues before the meeting was out.

Buzz kill
Guests packed out the Ferma welcome party, but it lacked a certain something - a steady supply of alcohol. The event ran out of booze and glasses within 45 minutes, and guests then had to line up outside in the rain for a chance of getting a refill. When the extra booze finally did turn up, guests were rationed to half a bottle of beer each. Party on, Stockholm!