Independent's rating review

Independent's rating review
Rating agency Standard & Poor's is in talks with Independent Insurance after announcing it is to review the insurer's single A financial and insurance rating.
Director Rob Jones said it had decided to act because of concerns over the £29m drop in Independent's profits revealed in its preliminary results for 2000.
Jones said S&P expects to reveal whether it will downgrade Independent's financial rating in the next two weeks.
Independent's chief executive, Michael Bright, has stressed the results were caused by underwriting losses in France, storms and “further reserving provision due to industry developments.”
Gross written premium income increased 64% during the year to £830m.

Updated handbook
Lloyd's has issued a new handbook to underwriting agencies as part of its drive to raise standards in the market.
A handbook was first issued in July 1999, bringing together Lloyd's core principles and regulatory codes. Now it has been updated to include recent rules and guidelines.
Lloyd's will use the new codes of practice to monitor underwriting agencies.

Zurich sell-offs possible
Zurich has refused to rule out disposals in the UK, following its disappointing results last week (See p12).
The insurer said it would probably sell underperforming, non-core property and casualty insurance operations from around the world.
US and Asian business were said to be more likely targets than the UK market. A spokeswoman for the insurer said she couldn't exclude any country either.

Ama ready for business
The newly formed Accident Management Association (AMA) has opened for business.
It has also published its prospectus, which includes the AMA mission statement and the association's aims and objectives.
Tony Baker, director general, said the AMA was an opportunity for the industry to unite under one strong trade association.

Virtual advice
Law firm Clifford Chance is advising Lloyd's on the establishment of its virtual online marketplace which is due to launch on March 31.
The portal will have two zones. The first is a search and find directory that can feed visitors through to any transactional site linked to
The second zone provides insurance- and reinsurance-related information.

New campaign
Allianz Cornhill has launched a new marketing campaign called Raising the Game, which focuses on the insurer's supportive partnership with brokers.
The campaign starts in next week's Insurance Times.
It builds on last year's New Era campaign which was awarded the title of best trade advertising campaign at the Insurance Industry Awards 2000.

Crashes drive insurance up
Four out of five motorcyclists have made a claim on their insurance over the past 12 months, pushing motorbike insurance up by 18% to £722 in the last year. According to an AA survey of 100 bikers, a minority of 17% have had a claim-free ride in the past two years, and only 10% have not claimed in the past three years.A five-year claim-free record is made by just one in 14 bikers.Under 30s pay an average £996 per year.

1st Quote is on digital
On digital's On net TV service is the latest to feature a quote-to-cover insurance service from 1st Quote. Last year, 1st Quote struck similar deals with Telewest and Kingston Interactive Television to feature its product. Subscribers to these interactive services can now access instant quotes, pay online and receive immediate insurance cover through their television. 1st Quote offers a range of products, which includes home, car, caravan, motorcycle, travel and pet insurance.

The Truman Lincoln show
Lincoln Tilbury Stewart and Truman Insurance Brokers are to merge, to form Truman Lincoln. After the merger, the firm will become one of the largest privately owned insurance brokers in the south-east of England, with 40 staff dealing with more than £11m of premiums annually. A purpose-built head office will be located in Caterham, Surrey, and will enable the business to expand over the next decade.

Thrifty sticks with Octavian
Octavian at Lloyd's is insuring the motor fleet of Thrifty Car Rental UK for the fourth year running. Most of Thrifty's franchise operations are signed to use the programme, which was brokered by SBJ. As part of the deal, Thrifty has appointed Town and Country Assistance to provide accident management services. Thrifty has 75 branches including seven corporate sites in the UK.

My beautiful laundrette
Laundrette Insurance Bureau and Insurance Counsellors will merge with House of Faiman and M&N Insurance Services on April 1. The new company will use its size to raise capital to expand services. It will include a move to bigger premises at Hendon Way in London. Specialist schemes for laundrettes, dry cleaners and ironing trades will be continued, but Laundrette's product range will be extended.

Contents cover for everyone
The Housing Corporation has published a good practice guide for housing organisations seeking insurance for their tenants. The report, Insurance for all – a good practice guide, says there are benefits for both landlords and tenants in setting up insurance schemes. The report said tenants' contents insurance schemes could ensure that cover was available to all tenants, regardless of the postcode area in which they live. Only a small proportion of registered social landlords have tenants' insurance schemes in operation.

Interactive travel service
The personal finance website has extended its insurance range by adding an interactive travel insurance service. Four policies are available – business travel, backpackers, single and multiple trip cover. Moneynet says the whole process of buying the policy can be completed in two to four minutes, depending on the type of cover required. Policy details can also be amended online. Moneynet also offers private medical insurance and motor insurance.

Going east
Export credit insurer Coface has signed a partnership agreement with the Emirates Bank Group. The deal means Coface will supply the Middle East bank with its @rating Solution insurable certification system. The system is already offered by Coface in more than 100 countries and allows companies to monitor the creditworthiness of commercial companies.

Running for charity
Gail Youd, an account executive for ITIC Thomas Miller, is running the London Marathon to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. She has received pledges of just under £800 so far, but needs another £200 to hit her target. If you wish to make a pledge, contact Gail on 020 7204 2905.

Ecommerce for everyone
IT consultancy Garol is holding workshops in April and May in London aimed at helping people to get the most out of ecommerce. The themes of the workshops are: how to manage a successful ecommerce project, effective internet marketing, and compliance in the internet era. Further details of the courses are available on

Loyal for nearly 70 years
South Moulton-based broker WH Adams has successfully renewed the fleet insurance of Redwoods Coach Travel for the 67th consecutive time. Redwoods is a third-generation, family-run business and WH Adams has acted for it throughout. The contract was originally underwritten by Provincial and is now with Axa. It is the only coach fleet insured by the company.

Westfield role is official
Westfield Health Scheme has been endorsed by the British Chambers of Commerce to be its official health cash supplier. About 130,000 companies nationwide are members of the British Chambers of Commerce. The Westfield Primary Healthcare Package offers three levels of cover. Premiums start at £1 per week and are not age- or claim-related. Westfield underwrites nearly all the products except for the personal accident product which is underwritten by Ace.

GD Hewstone taken over
Independent insurance broker Smart and Cook has acquired Grimsby-based general insurance broker GD Hewstone for an undisclosed sum. GD Hewstone's founder, Grahame Hewstone, becomes an associate director at Smart and Cook. His existing staff of three will transfer to Smart and Cook's Grimsby office later in the year.