Axa's new boss will decide whether the insurance giant should continue providing liability cover when he takes the reins in September.

Axa UK's new chief executive, Dennis Holt, said: “I will be looking at the viability of liability business from day one.”

Holt, who merged the general insurance businesses of Lloyds and TSB three years ago, is concerned at the profitability of liability business following the rise in claims and payouts in this area. He wants to investigate the long-term profitability of this business.

“It is all to do with cycles and I have to establish the length in this case,” he said.

Holt was appointed by Axa last week and replaces Mark Wood, who left Axa in February for Prudential. Outlining his plans, Holt said Axa would be expanding its direct business “because customers want it”.

But he said brokers were a key part of his plans, as they could provide bespoke services.

One of Holt's achievements at Lloyds TSB was the integration of the companies' IT systems and reconciling the TSB business, which was underwriting-based, and Lloyds' business, which was more of a brokerage.

Commenting on Axa's recent interim results, which showed a drop in premiums of 2.5% to £816m, Holt said he was keen to grow volumes, but not at any price. “There have been some suicidal pricing policies that have damaged the industry, but now they are receding,” he said.

Holt added: “The collapse of Independent Insurance will cause some discomfort to corporate clients, because they will have to pay a premium for quality cover.”

Holt, who was approached by Axa, said he had been impressed by the way the company had consolidated its brands and now had one global brand that was a strong competitor of price and quality.

Holt would not comment on speculation that Axa was preparing to bid for the UK arm of French insurer Groupama. However, he added: “We have not seen the end of consolidation in this market by a long way.”