New chief at Hiscox

New chief at Hiscox
Sian Fisher has been appointed managing director of Hiscox Insurance Company. She takes over from Bronek Masojada, Hiscox group chief executive. Fisher was the chief underwriting officer for the company for the past year and also a member of the executive group of Hiscox. Fisher joined the company in 1986 and was responsible for Hiscox's growth in the specialist professional indemnity market.

TIG flirts with Pyramid
Claims software provider The Innovation Group (TIG) is close to acquiring US-based claims software company Pyramid for around £14.3m. TIG disclosed it had signed an outline agreement to acquire the entire shareholding of Pyramid. Meanwhile, TIG said it expected its fourth quarter results for 2000 to show revenues of £5m, compared with £3.4m for the three months to September 2000. TIG's clients in the UK include Royal & Sunalliance and Norwich Union.

Wigs and pens
Legal publishers Butterworths and dispute resolution firm Kennedys have published Essential Law for Claim Handlers: A Survival Guide. The book covers recent changes to the law such as the Woolf reforms and new health and safety regulations. It was written by Kennedy's Brentwood office partner Richard West and former Royal Insurance claims handler Fred Heath, who joined Kennedys recently.

Free speech
A lecture entitled ‘Litigation costs, past, present and future' will be given by Master John O'Hare, costs judge, from 1pm to 2pm on Friday 16 February at The Old Library, Lloyd's, Lime Street, London. Admission is free on a first come first served basis.

It's easy.come has supplied more than £50m worth of insurance policies via the internet since its launch four years ago. The service, which allows web users to get quotes from up to nine insurers, has supplied more than one million quotes and attracts 3,000 visitors a day to its site. Easycover relies entirely on word-of-mouth to attract customers; it has never advertised or run any promotions.

NCM extends
International credit insurer NCM has started accepting short-term political and commercial risks on whole turnover policies. The new arrangement applies to all companies operating in the Netherlands. To date, the risks on non-industrialised countries have been for the Dutch government's account.The NCM Group, based in Amsterdam, already annually insures more than £80bn worth of business worldwide against the risk of non-payment. The group has been accepting these risks for OECD countries since 1999.

Plant pruned
Walsall-based broker Cox Lee has acquired the business of Staffordshire broker Joseph R Plant for an undisclosed sum. Plant's business, which is largely commercial, has been merged with that of Cox Lee at its Walsall office. This is Cox Lee's fifth major acquisition in the past four years and it aims to continue growth, both generic and by acquisition, during 2001.

Alf's new site
Insurance intermediary, Alfred Blackmore Group has launched a new website, to mark its centenary year.

Biba bash
The British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) will hold its West Midlands Sixth Annual Regional Conference on February 7. The theme of the conference at the Aston Villa Conference Centre will be Change and Prosper. More than 70 delegates attended the 2000 conference and Biba anticipates higher numbers this year. Topics will include web-enabled technology, the potential demise of insurance-based software houses and current underwriting strategy. Biba chief executive Mike Williams and Chris Woodburn of the General Insurance Standards Council are among the speakers. Reg Brown will chair the debate between industry experts.

Full capacity
Insurers are struggling to place repair work with approved bodyshops following the bad weather conditions at the end of 2000. Research by analysts MFBI found that bodyshops were working at full capacity and forecast there would be a repair capacity shortfall of 13% over the peak winter period between November and March. Two-thirds of all accident damage takes place during this period and MFBI found that there was only sufficient bodyshop capacity to meet average monthly demand throughout the year. The research concluded that the shortfall was due to low labour charge-out rates paid by the insurance companies, averaging at £21.50 an hour.

Quotes around the clock
Chaucer Insurance has started its first motorcycle internet trading initiative with Choicequote.
Chaucer is a member of a panel of insurers doing online business with the specialist motorcycle insurance provider. Motorcyclists can obtain quotes in one minute through the 24-hour site, and instant cover is available with credit or debit card payments, downloaded policy wordings and confirmation by mail. Choicequote's motorcycle manager Chris Pracy said: “We needed a flexible and constructive approach from out partner insurers and Chaucer matched that bill perfectly.”

Safe – with or without a job
Goodfellows has launched a stand-alone income protection package called Unemploymentsafe.
Goodfellows managing director Simon Burgess said the product, underwritten at Lloyd's, was designed to meet the UK's changing work patterns. “There's no such thing as a job for life and state provision is either minimal or, in most cases, non-existent,” he said. Burgess said Unemploymentsafe had a number of unique features, such as an excess period of only 30 days and a complementary employment and stress advice line. It also offers a maximum benefit of £2,500 per month, which Burgess claimed was 40% higher than almost all other policies.

Elite cover
Lawclub Legal Protection has joined forces with Layton Blackham to launch an Elite home legal and domestic assistance policy. A version of Lawclub's Family Protect product has been tailored to Layton Blackman's specifications to include benefits such as £50,000 legal cover for motor prosecution defence, £25,000 for clinical disputes and employment contracts and five hours of neighbour dispute mediation. The account will start with 10,000 units but has the potential to rise to 20,000.