New operation will write broker-only commercial property business

US property insurer giant FM Global has opened a smaller arm called Affiliated FM in London.

Affiliated FM will write broker-only commercial property business aimed at companies with an annual turnover of over £25m.

Affiliated FM has existed in the US since 1949, but has grown rapidly in the past five years, with a gross written premium of $250m (£175.8m) this year, compared to $75m (£52.7m) in 1996.

Jeff Fields, formerly Affiliated FM's US underwriting director, has relocated to the UK to run the new operation which will be based in Leadenhall Street.

Fields said Affiliated FM planned to develop relationships with up to ten regional and London Market brokers in its first year.

He said the brokers would be chosen on experience rather than size.

Fields was reluctant to estimate how much Affliliated FM would write this year, but said it could be up to £10m.

Affiliated FM's main product proVision is an all-risk property policy for manufacturing facilities and real estate, including machine and metalworking shops, plastic working and assembly.

Other products include boiler and machinery, inland marine, builder's risk, ocean cargo, fidelity and crime.

Fields said he would look for accounts of around £100,000 and preferred to pay net rather than commission.

He said Affiliated FM's entry into the hard market was not an opportunistic move, but was made on the advice of FM Global's UK operations. It would expand into Europe if its UK entry paid off.

FM Global, which began trading in 1835, deals premdominantly with multinational corporations but had received a number of approaches from smaller companies.

"It was more than just a blind leap of faith, it made sense," Fields said.

"Consistency and sensibility has come into fashion. Suddenly there's a flight to quality and that's where we've always been."