Move could see insurer cover more risks over £50,000 to add 'depth' to product range

Fortis is looking to expand the number of larger premium risks that it underwrites, in a move that could see it cover more risks over £50,000.

The development is part of the insurer's plans to broaden its product range, which is likely to include the launch of a mid net worth household insurance product later in the year (see box).

Paul Chaplain, underwriting director at Fortis told Insurance Times that the insurer was studying the potential for insuring larger risks. "We want to widen our product range in terms of width and depth."

The move could see the insurer cover more risks over £50,000. However, the majority are likely to be under £10,000, said Chaplain.

Chaplain added that the move would not lead to the insurer covering "major risks". "We will never be a line slip insurer on multi-national programmes," he said.

Fortis' average commercial premium is £1,300 with the majority of risks priced below £5,000. It does, however, insure some risks priced at over £50,000.

The company's distribution and development director Chris Dobson said: "We do some [larger risks] but we want to understand the sectors where we can do more.

"We can afford to move into this more competitive area as we have a lower cost base, so can price competitively."

Meanwhile, Fortis UK reported record UK revenues and profits in 2006 from its insurance activities.

Pre-tax profits were up 16.8% to £77.5m, from £66.4m in 2005. Fortis Insurance saw gross written premiums increase 15.4% to £688.3m. Commissions from the retail business, including RIAS and OutRight, increased 28% to £77.3m in 2006.

Barry Smith, chief executive Fortis UK, said: "Throughout 2006 we continued to strengthen our multi-distribution strategy and provide our partners and customers with a range of solutions to access Fortis products and services."