Personal lines business will need commercial tie-in, insurer says

Norwich Union is launching a broker consultation over the future of its personal lines support.

Intermediary business director Ken Wallace said that Norwich Union (NU) had appointed 12 consultants this week to consult with its agencies about their future plans. He said: "It's no use burying your head until 12 months time when regulation will be on top of us. It is better to face it now."

The consultants, who have been trained by NU, will each take responsibility for a single NU region. They are all NU employees .

Wallace said that the consultants' mission was to talk to brokers about where they want to be in three year's time. Compulsory FSA regulation comes into effect in January 2005.

It is understood that one of the key areas that the consultants will be looking at is personal lines. Wallace said that NU would continue to provide support for personal lines, but strongly favoured personal lines business where there was a commercial lines attachment. NU was looking to support personal lines business of existing and future commercial lines broker customers.

"We are looking at the value of the account overall," said Wallace.

"If there is no commercial lines attachment then we will make an offer to take the business through NU Direct," said Wallace.

He added: "Brokers can also use NU Home and Drivers."

It is understood that accounts for large personal lines brokers such as Budget, Hill House Hammond and Kwik-Fit Insurance Services will not be affected. Wallace said: "Because of their size and leverage it is economical for us to continue as normal."

Wallace said that if brokers still wanted NU to support non-commercial lines customers who wanted personal lines policies, there would be no problem. "We do not want to railroad anyone," he said.

l Nine brokers in Newcastle have begun an NU pilot for auto-rated small business policies and brokers in Norwich are set to pilot a similar commercial underwritten product.