Growth on the horizon

Growth on the horizon
PINNACLE Insurance predicts that the UK economy will grow by 2.4% in 2001.

The forecast, written by Martin Weale of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said growth was below trend for the first part of the year but that it should rise, following March's expansionary budget.

However, it warned that saving rates had been depressed by the rising tax burden on households.

Spain man
ROBERTSON Taylor Insurance Brokers has opened an office in Madrid, adding to existing offices in London, New York and Paris.

The Madrid office will be headed by Angus McKay, who was born in Spain to British parents, and has been working in the Spanish insurance market for several years.

Court in the act
A MOCK trial to help personal injury claims staff understand court procedure is being conducted at Leeds Town Hall by Leeds law firm Nelson and Company.

The case, on June 12, will be presided over by Keith Nightingale, a deputy district judge and a senior partner in Nelson and Company.

Insurance companies represented by Nelson and Company are being invited to attend the event which will be presented as authentically as possible. Nelson and Company can be contacted on 0113 227 0100.

Calling couch potatoes
BUPA has launched a new health and fitness website for young people. was created by Bupa to motivate young people to get into the habit of taking regular exercise and eating well.

It includes interviews with celebrities, including Spice Girl Mel B, competitions, a games zone and information on sport.

Visitors to the site can sign up to the biggest teenage road run in the UK, the Bupa Junior Great North Run.

Moggy matters
ANIMAL insurer Petplan has produced a comprehensive guide to cat care.

The 5 Minute Feline contains advice on owning and caring for a cat and covers a range of issues such as worming and vaccinations. It also gives practical advice on hygiene, dietary requirements, behaviour problems and general healthcare. More than five million UK households own at least one cat.

Claims conundrum
COMPUTER Sciences Corporation is holding a seminar on general insurance claims called The Claims Con-undrum at the RAC Club on June 20.

There will be a number of prominent speakers, including Professor Stephen Diacon, chair of insurance management at Nottingham University; Shaun Proudfoot, senior consultant at CSC; and Brian Stahl,

Royal & Sunalliance liability claims executive for the Americas.

Branching out
SURREY-based loss adjusters Specialist Plant Investigations (SPI) and its sister company Caravan Engineering Services (CES) have opened two new offices in Bristol and Southampton.

Former Jardine Lloyd Thompson claims manager Peter Melichar will run the Bristol branch while the Southampton office is headed by Chris Coles, previously with Miller Pycraft.

Anti-fraud day
RAVENSTONE UK will hold a one-day anti-fraud conference entitled The Claim Game on June 21, at the Chartered Insurance Institute.

Broadcaster Nick Ross will be one of the guest speakers at the conference, which will concentrate on motor claims. Information is available by phoning 0161 969 9000.

Mortgages hit a high
THE level of mortgage lending in April was the highest seen since monthly records began in June 1998, according to a Council of Mortgage Lenders survey, based on mortgage completions from both banks and building societies.

Total gross mortgage lending was £12.6bn, compared with £12.2bn in March and £9.2bn in April last year.

Lending for house purchase increased by 5.3% to £8bn in April compared with March, when it was £6.3bn.

Happy birthday to the LMUA
LLOYD'S Motor Underwriters Association (LMUA), which represents all the underwriting syndicates at Lloyd's, celebrated its 70th anniversary this week.

It was set up in 1931 by a number of specialist non marine underwriters who had adopted trading names for their syndicates.

One of the original number was Kenneth McNeil, who went on to found KGM Motor Policies, a syndicate still trading in its own name today.

At its high point, the LMUA had 46 member syndicates.

Equal for all
A NON-DISCRIMINATORY income protection policy has been launched by Goodfellows, with premiums not loaded for age, gender, sexuality or occupation.

Called, it offers tax-free monthly benefits of up to 75% of normal gross earnings after a waiting period of 30 days.

Typical rates are premiums of £25 a month for a benefit of £1000 a month for up to a year. This would rise to £30 if benefits were to be paid for two years.

Hill Arch in court
Hill Arch, an insurance intermediary owed by Saxon Insurance chief executive Brian Wright, is being sued over allegations that it charged £15,000 in excess premiums for net rated buildings cover.

The case is expected to be heard at Hull County Court on June 20. The case is being brought by student lettings firm Kexgill.

Wright said he believed there was no case to answer and is contesting the action.

If and Sampo to merge
INSURERS If and Sampo have plans to merge their property and casualty insurance operations.

The enlarged If will become the leading independent P&C insurance company in the Nordic region, with a market share of 24% and 3.7 million customers. Sampo, which has also made an offer for Storebrand, will own 67.5% of the enlarged group.

The mergers, which are subject to regulatory approvals, would also lead to a new board of directors chaired by Idar Kreutzer.

Chris Aujard, who set up Lloyd's captive programmes, has stepped down as head of the insurance market's development projects.

His rapid departure comes in light of recent revelations that Lloyd's is withdrawing from the captive insurance market after its only captive, formed by Smithkline Beecham, went into run-off.

Aujard, who was central to Lloyd's development initiatives for a number of years, resigned earlier this month. He was also responsible for advising investors, briefing analysts and working with potential Lloyd's businesses.

Union deal
Royal & Sunalliance has signed a far-reaching agreement with insurance unions MSF and Unifi covering 60% of its 24,000 staff who are union members.

The deal introduces a single union contact for pay and other issues, streamlining the cost and time of negotiations.