Michael Faulkner

Hiscox is set to launch a TV advertising campaign next month in a bid to grow its household business.

The advert, which plays on the idea of superstitions, is part of the insurer's £10m marketing campaign for 2006. It will run for four weeks in May and seven weeks in September, during "up market" programmes.

The company insisted the aim was to grow both its intermediated and direct distributions, despite the advert's focus on the Hiscox brand.

Steve Langan, managing director of Hiscox UK, said: "We believe we can drive more business through both channels. We will understand the end customer and drive business through the most appropriate channel."

Direct business currently accounts for 10% of Hiscox UK's premium income. Langan said the expectation was to increase it to 20% by 2010. This would amount to a £90m increase in direct premiums, against a £220m increase in intermediated premiums.

Group chairman Robert Hiscox dismissed suggestions the adverts would be seen as only promoting the company's direct arm. "Brokers will shout and scream [about it], but we don't care. Good brokers will understand it." Langan added that larger risks which came through the direct channel are passed on to a broker. "We have doubled our broker channel to 40 - people are fighting to get on to it. We are still broker friendly."

Hiscox' UK gross written premiums were £207m in 2005.

The ad that should bring Hiscox some luck
Cracked mirrors, insects pinned to walls, passing on the stairs, the number 13 - nothing phases the man in black, not even crazy superstitions. He just keeps on going about his daily business, walking through the an eerily quiet city (Prague in fact). That is until some black cats cross his path, hundreds of them (mostly computer generated, but probably still unlucky). Well at least he has a Hiscox policy when his world starts crashing down around him...