Changes will start taking effect next May, NIG boss says

Jon Greenwood, NIG

Direct Line Group’s decision to cut 90 roles at its broker-only commercial insurer NIG should not affect broker service, according to NIG managing director Jon Greenwood.

Greenwood declined to reveal how many broker-facing roles would be included in the cut, which affects a “mixture of roles”, as the company is consulting with employees on which jobs will go.

However, he told Insurance Times: “We’re determined that we will maintain service to our brokers through the transition.

“We very deliberately set out a timetable that allows us to make the transition gradually and in a very controlled way. We wouldn’t envisage any material changes before May and the changes will run pretty much to the fourth quarter of next year.”

He added: “That is a very conscious decision to ensure that as we make the changes we maintain service to our brokers.”

Greenwood also pointed out that the 90 job cuts should be seen in the context of the company’s overall staff level of around 1,000.

Under the changes, NIG will create two new underwriting centres: a Manchester centre covering the North and a Bristol centre for the South.

Administrative and underwriting assistance roles will be moved to the two new centres, leading to a reduction in staff in the regional offices. In turn the regional offices will focus on negotiating new business and renewals.

Greenwood said the change should bring a sharper trading focus to the regional offices, all of which will remain open. “Part of the rationale for the change, apart from the obvious cost savings, is to make sure that our regional offices are increasingly focused on trading,” he commented. “I expect us to emerge from this with regional offices with an even greater focus on trading with brokers and therefore providing great services as a consequence.”

He added that the changes would also help the plan to increase the autonomy of NIG’s regional offices. “We have already cut the number of referrals from our regional offices into head office by around 80%. We want to make sure all of that autonomy we have granted to the regions now only stays in the regional offices but also they are given more space, because we free them up from some of the activities that are going to move into the two centres in Manchester and Bristol.”

The NIG cuts are part of a new wave of 236 role reductions at the Direct Line Group as a whole, as the group seeks £100m cost savings by the end of 2014.