Fortis woos regional brokers for 20% SME growth

Fortis' premium income will soar by nearly 10% after it poached the Age Concern household account from Norwich Union.

The home and contents book is estimated to be worth £50m and will add around 8% to the insurer's total GWP.

Norwich Union will continue to service the account until January 2006. NU confirmed there would be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the loss.

Fortis chief executive Barry Smith said: "We are delighted to have won the household account with Age Concern. This is consistent with our strategic decision to underwrite a range of products and increase our distribution through the intermediated market."

Meanwhile, Fortis is targeting provincial brokers to grow its SME book by up to 20% this year.

Fortis operations director Shaun Astley said the company's commercial business account grew by 20% during 2004 and that he was "certain" it could grow by the same amount during 2005.

Astley said: "We are looking to push the amount of business we do with the existing agency base. We are looking to increase our share of their commercial book."

Business relationship manager Steve Berry said the insurer was seeking to exploit the potential it saw in the provincial broker channel, although the plans are to grow market share through its entire distribution channel.

Berry said the commercial push would be accomplished primarily through organic growth. "We want to develop our relations with brokers. Once they know us they will want to do more business with us," he said. "It's about reminding our existing brokers that we offer commercial products as well as personal lines."

Fortis currently has a commercial agency base of approximately 1,500 UK intermediaries.