Jon Greenwood rejects claims that commercial lines brokers are being lured by Aviva and LV=

NIG managing director Jon Greenwood has dismissed talk of rivals pouncing on its commercial book, stressing that retention rates held up well last year.

NIG’s personal lines arm was put into run-off around October and November last year because of deteriorating claims.

Rival insurers, which are set to renew a large proportion of NIG’s former personal lines accounts this year, are also asking brokers to switch over parts of their NIG commercial lines book.

One broker, asked this month to change over, said: “It’s LV= and Aviva. Aviva is very proactive at doing it. They’re saying: ‘we’ll match last year’s closing rate, just move it over to us’.”

A senior insurer source said it was not out of the ordinary for insurers to take books of business off each other, but added that there was a greater focus on NIG following the decision to place personal lines into run-off.

However, Greenwood said: “The acid test is: have we seen any attrition to our business? And the answer is no, we haven’t. So if they are making renewed or reinforced efforts to attack the book, then it’s not showing.

“We are quite happy. In fact, on the lines that we are targeting, we got some growth.”

Insurance Times has learned that NIG was on the front foot and had offered up to 4% commission for achieving targets in placing new business.

Greenwood explained that NIG was offering incentives, but that the company’s proposition was different from that of rivals such as AXA and Aviva.

He said: “Clearly, if we see that we have commercial opportunities with brokers that allow us to acquire rollovers, then we’ll talk about terms. And those terms are clearly going to be enhanced if there’s a benefit in doing that. We did not have a final-quarter push sale in the way that some of our competitors did, but we’ve clearly had incentives in 2010 for the right deals.”

Greenwood stressed that NIG was not for sale, and said broker sentiment was still good.

“That personal lines decision was very difficult for us, but as we stand here in January, I’m satisfied we handled it the best that we could, and it has not done any damage, based on the sentiment that I get talking to brokers.”

An LV= spokesman said there was no specific strategy to target NIG. Aviva declined to comment.