Zurich denies market putsch

Zurich denies market putsch
Zurich has denied that it is poised to hit the large commercial market after rival Norwich Union revealed that it was cutting back its business in the sector. Sources have suggested that Zurich's Birmingham division has been ordered by the group's head office to write more commercial business in the £200,000-plus range. But a Zurich spokesman said: “Our position hasn't changed. We are going to continue to underwrite and market all kinds of business as long as it fits within our criteria. “But I am not sure there is any credence in that statement [that Zurich is targeting £200,000-plus business].”

Grant's plans under wraps
Former QBE general manager Bob Grant is planning to make a quick comeback to the insurance industry, he told Insurance Times. Grant quit QBE following a disagreement on the future management of the business with group chief executive Frank O'Halloran. Earlier this week Grant told Insurance Times he was “taking a rest” but had plans for the future that he could not yet disclose. “I've had a lot of calls and a lot of meetings,” he said. “I don't intend to take retirement yet.”

Sherwood buys Promark
IT firm Sherwood International has acquired specialist general insurance policy administration software, Promark Software, in a deal worth £3.9m. Founded in 1989, Promark Software is based in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, and employs 50 people. Promark's flagship product, PROGEN 2, is a multi-lingual, multi-currency, general insurance system covering all elements of policy and claims administration.

The butt stops here
Tobacco company insurers including the US subsidiaries of Zurich and CGNU may be forced to pay a massive £103bn damages award after a US judge upheld a record-setting compensation order.
Florida circuit judge Robert Kaye rejected tobacco industry requests to reduce the huge claim on Monday, the same day a federal judge rejected federal jurisdiction over the case.The subsidiaries of Zurich and CGNU are among 33 insurers made liable for the £103bn damages awarded in the case against five tobacco firms.

Superdryer set for action
Disaster management and business continuity company Ark & General has launched a new industrial dehumidifier, called the Superdryer.The new machine has been in the pipeline for three years and cost more than £550,000 to develop. Insurers Independent and Zurich were involved in helping with the design.

Calling SOS for new tariff
Paperwork restoration specialist Document SOS has introduced a fixed-price tariff for loss adjusters to allow them to estimate costs more accurately.The policy ensures a small consistent mark-up on costs such as transport and disbursement and clear scale of costs relating to specialist services.

271 downgraded by Moody's
Ratings agency Moody's this week downgraded the Lloyd's aviation syndicate Kingsmead 271 average from B- below average to C-.The syndicate was downgraded because it has been unable to attract capital for the 2001 year of account. This follows an announcement that the syndicate will not trade under its previous backer, Advent.

Free Business Builder pack
Financial plan provider Shepherds has launched a new Business Builder pack, which is free to all financial advisers. The pack includes a CD-Rom introduction to traded endowment policies, advice on how to reach customers who wish to sell their endowment policies and information on investment income and school fees. Shepherds managing director Mike Abraham said the pack allowed financial advisers to give clients instant policy valuations through a link to Sheperds' website.

Van Ameyde expands in UK
Claims handler Van Ameyde is expanding in both the UK and Ireland by opening offices in Edinburgh and Galway.The Edinburgh office was acquired from the Crowe Group. Its 25 staff have all been transferred to Van Ameyde. The Galway office will have a staff of 12. Van Ameyde has 30 international offices, including the existing Bromley-based UK operation.

Short-term help is at hand
Stephen Byers, the Trade and Industry Secretary, has announced a package of measures to help businesses experiencing short-term difficulties. It includes the establishment of a new unit, which will consider rescue proposals put forward by businesses. In addition, the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise will publish and stick to strict timetables in dealing with vulnerable businesses.

Drive on with Willis
Willis has launched a total accident management service for fleet insurance, called Drive.The service has been devised to streamline the administrative process of claims management, repair authorisation and financing. “We are bringing together and controlling a range of quality services to offer one single accident management product that provides users with a more comprehensive, innovative alternative to existing accident management services,” said Drive director Mike Russell.Willis expect Drive to become one of the top three companies in this field within the next five years.

Miller Kelsh launches site
Broker Miller Kelsh has launched a website for the membership of The National Association of Estate Agents, and other property professionals. The site can be found at millerkelsh.co.uk. It offers the ability to apply for online quotes or download proposal forms for all of Miller Kelsh's professional indemnity, office, company car and health insurance products.