Details of new network revealed as NU rolls out new group for small brokers

HSBC Insurance Brokers has joined the battle to win over small brokers by creating its own network, it has emerged.

Labyrinth Club was launched on 1 January to target small independent regional brokers.

The details of the offering have only just emerged and the news coincides with the launch of Norwich Union’s initiative for small brokers, Broker Independence Group, which was unveiled on Monday.

HSBC said brokers from its existing accounts – about 2,000 firms – were being attracted to Labyrinth. The network already has 117 members with combined gross written premium of £310m to £320m.

To join Labyrinth, brokers must have been trading for 15 years, have £2.8m of gross written premium and employ eight members of staff. They must also have started out as a personal lines broker in the motor market.

Richard Harrison, managing director of the intermediary marketing division of HSBC Insurance Brokers, said the plan was to raise the profile of community brokers within their local area and get them competing for customers who go direct to insurers such as Direct Line.

Through Labyrinth, HSBC is offering brokers help with lead generation and specialist products. It can call on a panel of 12 insurers, including broker-only insurers and Lloyd’s insurers, and has formed a strategic alliance with Iprism, an online small to medium-sized enterprise quote facility.

“A number of network initiatives going at the moment have services that our brokers have told us are not a priority for them,” said Harrison. “We want our brokers to tell everyone in their community that they are still there and they have some good rates.”

Meanwhile, Norwich Union has admitted that its focus is moving to smaller brokers with the launch of its Broker Independence Group.

John Kennedy, director of business development, said: “We will trade with all brokers … At the moment our focus is going to local independent brokers. We are shifting the balance a bit.”

The group is for small brokers with less than £800,000 premium with Norwich Union.

The insurer confirmed it had hired Bob Beckett, chairman of UKGI, for six months to help with research for the initiative.

“He helped us massively to understand the small broker,” added Kennedy.

Jo Thoy, formerly of Broker Network, has been appointed head of sales at the small broker group, as revealed by Insurance Times last month.