Risk and insurance services firm Marsh has launched a telesales operation for small businesses in the UK.

CGU and Royal & SunAlliance were both involved in the setting up of Marsh Business Insurance Solutions, based in Southampton.

The call centre initiative follows research by Marsh which shows 45% of businesses with a turnover up to £1 million prefer to handle their insurance by telephone and post instead of through high street brokers.

Marsh says that small business buyers want competitive premiums, a hassle-free claims service and easy to understand policies.

An initial five products are being offered aimed at retailers and restaurants; professional offices and surgeries; commercial combined which includes legal expenses insurance; tradesman; and motor vehicles used by small businesses.

"The very strong message we have received from the research findings is that small business customers are looking for the security of a strong brand with high levels of service," said Marsh Business Insurance Solutions head, Richard Hawkins.

The initiative will result in 40 jobs being created in Southampton over the next year. Marsh's network of UK offices will concentrate on offering more bespoke services and cost-effective risk management programmes.