More than 40 staff affected as insurer Groupama looks to centralise claims handling

Groupama is proposing to restructure its UK general insurance claims operations following a strategic review.

If confirmed, the plans will bring together personal and commercial lines claims handling into the company’s personal lines claims centre in Port Solent, near Portsmouth, resulting in the phased closure of its commercial lines claims centre in Borehamwood. It is currently proposed that the transfer of work to Portsmouth will commence in April 2010.

The proposals will also see the reorganisation of the company’s senior claims management team while a number of highly experienced technical claims controllers will be remaining in Borehamwood to create the foundation for a new large and complex loss unit. In addition, a new technical team in Portsmouth is proposed to manage indemnity spend while a separate operational team will handle all front-line claims including fast-track personal injury claims.

The Borehamwood Commercial Claims Centre employs just over 40 people and currently manages 40,000 claims for Groupama’s 2,500 commercial brokers and intermediaries.

As part of the formal consultation process, the insurer said that relocation and redeployment opportunities will be explored for affected employees to relocate to the South Coast or into the company’s other business centres across the UK.

Claims director Phil Bird said: “The review demonstrated that significant business efficiencies and valuable cost savings might be achieved if day to day commercial claims handling activities are moved to Portsmouth where Groupama already has 200 employees handling motor and household claims. It will certainly offer the greater resilience that comes from managing claims from one centre whilst the multi-skilling of claims handlers and the opportunities for the standardisation of claims processes can deliver valuable improvements in productivity. It is also evident that costs could be reduced significantly if day to day claims operations were to move away from the London area.”

Bird added: “Given their valuable skills, experience and expertise, we are very keen to retain as many as possible of the team currently in Borehamwood. However, we do recognise that a move to Portsmouth may not be suitable for everyone and that in the event our proposals are accepted there is likely to be some impact on jobs where individuals are unable or unwilling to relocate. As such, this has not been an easy decision.”

Groupama said any move should avoid disruption to brokers and their clients as work is migrated.

Laurent Matras, managing director at Groupama said: “The proposal to centralise our day to day claims handling in a single centre offers the best and most robust operational model to service our brokers and their clients and will also offer us many benefits to help support the future development of our business. We value our claims expertise very highly, but Groupama operates in a highly competitive market and must address the critical issues of expense and efficiency to ensure a healthy, successful and sustainable business.

“We do of course, understand the potential impact that these proposals might have on our people in Borehamwood and we will do everything we can to provide the help and support they require throughout the process.”