Tom Broughton introduces the relationships issue: starting with the Towergate-Chaucer spat

It sounds as if it has almost become a moral issue for Towergate chairman Peter Cullum, as his words are stark. “Staff breaking covenants is one thing, but it is a dark day when an insurer breaks the integrity of the broker-client relationship,” he says referring to his company’s allegations of poaching against insurer Chaucer.

Chaucer is yet to comment, but this latest insurance turf war will no doubt play out in the high court with both sides having their say as to how and why the relationship has broken down. However, should you put the particulars of this case to one side it raises an interesting issue for the market. It would appear that Cullum is particularly peeved that it is an insurer that could potentially muscle in on his clients. Perhaps this is because the tradition of the insurer-broker relationship dictates that any such move is seen as being more underhand than if a rival broker did it.

A manoeuvre from any insurer looking to capture clients which already have a relationship with an existing broker becomes an increasingly emotive one. But then it could be argued that the aggressive acquisition model developed by Towergate has already questioned – all be it legitimately – those protocols anyway. After all, the more distribution Towergate commands the more leverage it can wield in the market, can it not?

‘ You may have noticed that there is a sprinkling of l’amour across this week’s issue. No apologies for this, as the matter of service provisions continues to be one of the single biggest issues facing the industry and the strength of your relationships is at the heart of your business. AXA boss Peter Hubbard has admirably accepted the criticisms of exclusive research compiled by Insurance Times’ parent company, Newsquest Specialist Media, concerning its poor service levels and is committed to tackle the problems head on. To coincide with St Valentine’s Day we’ve also examined the relationships between the industry and the regulator, and taken a lighter hearted look at relationships both inside and outside the workplace.