And also this week …

Zurich expands in Europe

Zurich has announced that it will be strengthening its PI and financial lines teams in Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Ireland with fresh underwriting and support staff. The teams write business for their respective domestic markets, while receiving guidance from Zurich’s headquarters in London. Meanwhile, Stuart Quinlan, head of financial lines for the firm’s UK GI broker division, will extend his role to cover western Europe.

Lloyd’s pushes Exchange

Lloyd’s chief executive Richard Ward has urged the market’s managing agents to connect to the Lloyd’s Exchange. In a letter sent to all managing agent chief executives this week, Ward revealed that Lloyd’s was on course to meet its targets of having 80% of managing agents, by capacity, and 60% of brokers signed up to the electronic messaging system by April 2010.

Burrows takes strategic top spot

Brit Insurance has promoted Peter Burrows from Brit UK chief executive to the position of executive chairman for its UK strategic business unit. He takes up this new role on 1 January 2010. The insurer is searching for a replacement.

Swiss Re pushes for rate rises

Swiss Re is urging insurers to put up rates to make up for low interest rates dampening investment returns. Swiss Re’s chief economist, Thomas Hess, said: “With very low interest rates, insurers must have combined ratios of 95% or less to ensure profitability,” he said. Swiss Re data shows that insurers globally made an underwriting profit this decade only in the four years between 2004 and 2007.