Managing director Mark Cliff announces a change of focus and big plans for the broker market

Fortis UK managing director Mark Cliff has unveiled ambitious plans to take on market giants AXA and Aviva, by expanding the insurer’s commercial lines footprint.

He said the Fortis business model currently stood at 90% personal and 10% commercial lines, but he anticipated this would shift to 65% and 35% respectively, within the next five years.

“Commercial lines is a particularly important part of our growth strategy … Before we entered into the strategy, we spent a lot of time talking to brokers. The feedback we got was that if we provide as good a service as we can in personal lines, they will use us,” he said.

Cliff said he hoped Fortis would also be able to command 15% of its 2,300 brokers’ entire portfolio within that time frame, providing competition for market big hitters such as Aviva and AXA.

“I think the opportunity for us is to provide a strong alternative, in terms of a well-capitalised group with some very strong technical discipline, and providing a high level of service.”

Cliff pointed to the success of the Fortis van product in the commercial arena as proof of the insurer’s potential for expanding in commercial lines. “We are up to 100,000 customers. That puts us virtually in the top five for commercial vehicle insurers.”

Fortis UK has built up an experienced underwriting operations team based in its Gloucester office and has expanded its claims team, Cliff explained. He added: “We won’t be developing branch networks. Our belief is that, with technology today, we don’t need to have offices here, there and everywhere.”

Cliff also reiterated his commitment to the broking arena, adding that the company has no plans to invest in direct insurance.

In March, Fortis piloted a motor fleet scheme to 25 brokers and now plans to roll it out across their 2,300 brokers in January. He added that Fortis will be focusing on specialist areas within the commercial arena, such as leisure, care homes, pubs, restaurants and agriculture.

Fortis UK is undergoing a rebrand after its parent company, the Belgian-Dutch Fortis Bank, was bought by BNP Paribas, and will be known by a different name after 2011.

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