The UK's big five loss adjusters face another summer of uncertainty as both Axa and CGNU announce a review of their panels.

Cutbacks could cause a new round of consolidation among the 'big five' loss adjusters that were created by a flurry of mergers in the past three years in a bid to match the scale of today's insurers.

Six loss adjusters currently serve each Axa and CGNU. The industry's top five loss adjusters, Cunningham Ellis and Buckle, Miller Pycraft, GAB Robins, McLarens Toplis and Crawford's are all in the running.

An Axa spokesman said its review would partly address the duplication in its loss adjusting services following its merger with Guardian. Tenders for the loss adjusting work are to be sent out this month. Applications will be considered in August, before the list of successful bidders is announced in September.

Axa said it intended to balance the issue of claims management costs with improvements to service standards.

CGNU is also to review its loss adjusting requirements as its constituent companies Norwich Union and CGU begin work on their £18bn merger deal.

A spokeswoman for NU said the review would take place in the near future, although there is no immediate timetable for change. David Mairs, chief executive of loss adjusters Ashworth Mairs, has welcomed the industry shake-up as a golden opportunity.

He said: "This is an exciting opportunity for the loss adjusting market, there will be winners and losers, but those that succeed will have a flexible approach and will attack claims spend."

Mairs thought it unlikely that CGNU would simply repeat CGU's tendering process, which followed the merger of General Accident and Commercial Union.

Ashworth Mairs decided not to re-apply for its place on CGU's panel during last year's exercise. The exercise saw CGU slash its number of loss adjusters from seven to four.