Norwich Union and AXA are understood to be reviewing their relationships too

Major insurers are expected to pull the plug on exclusive deals with broker networks after it emerged Zurich has ended its relationship with Westinsure.

The insurer pulled deals with the Westinsure network that included enhanced commissions and support for its broker members, and has subsequently withdrawn from the Westinsure panel. Zurich confirmed it ended the relationship at the end of last year.

A spokesman denied it was part of a broader strategy to cut back its deals with networks. “We always look at our relationships…some fit and some don’t.”

A senior market source said networks must start to prove their worth to insurers. “Insurers are looking at what benefits they are getting out of networks and if you can’t prove it then they will get out,” the source said. It is also believed that Norwich Union has withdrawn from offering exclusive deals to a number of networks and alliances in the market following its tough approach on commissions. AXA and RSA are also thought to be reviewing their arrangements with networks.

However AXA said it was still committed to Westinsure and had no current plans to change. “AXA is fully supportive of Westinsure and we enjoy a healthy working relationship with them,” said a spokesman. RSA refused to comment.

According to the latest figures from Westinsure, the group has 179 UK offices and £262m in gross written premiums. Westinsure could not be reached for comment.

Last year Norwich Union admitted it would prefer to deal direct with brokers and began to review its relationships with distributors. At the beginning of 2008, it set up Club 110 for brokers with a book of business valued between £800,000 and £5m. And in early March this year it launched Broker Independence Group, for smaller brokers.

HSBC Insurance, which launched its Labyrinth network for small brokers at the start of the year, said it would focus on attracting broker-only insurers and Lloyd’s insurers to its panel.

Other networks include The Broker Network, Willis Commercial Network, Cobra Network, OurNetwork, Purple Partnership and Layton Blackham Business Solutions (now renamed as Broker Partnership Services).