Ex-RSA boss has joined private equity contest for Direct Line Group

Former RSA Group chief executive Andy Haste could be set for a sensational return to insurance, spearheading a private equity consortium bid for Direct Line Group.

It is not the first time that Haste has been pencilled in for a comeback since leaving his post at the end of 2011 after eight years at RSA.

Haste was linked to the Aviva hot seat after the departure of chief executive Andrew Moss in May. But there was doubt whether he would be up for another big challenge in turning around a struggling company after rescuing RSA.

It was also believed that Haste’s wife, who is American, was keen for a return to the USA. But now it seems that Direct Line might be the perfect opportunity to restore what was once a market-leading business to (some of) its former glory.

The main question at the moment is whether Direct Line goes to flotation or is snapped up by a private equity buyer.

One possibility would be for RBS to ask the EU Competition Commission to put back its deadline for Direct Line sale, with RBS management keen for an initial public offering.

If the Haste-led private equity bid is successful, the industry can expect to see wholesale changes, with NIG widely tipped by analysts to be sold.

Brokers frustrated by lack of service

The latest survey by insurer MMA today has revealed a lack of personalised service by insurers to be the biggest frustration for brokers working in schemes.

MMA’s second survey, of 250 UK commercial brokers between mid-May and early June this year, found that 29.8% cited a slow or lack of response to queries as their number one gripe, 29.8% said a lack of underwriting flexibility, while 26.7% highlighted a lack of access to decision makers.

No doubt as schemes really begin to take off insurers will up their game as they aim to tap into this potentially highly lucrative part of the market.