Thousands of small brokers could receive Norwich Union (NU) agencies as the insurer targets non-agency intermediaries with the potential to grow substantial accounts.

NU director of intermediary support Greg Gladwell said the insurer had not set a target for new agencies, but was comparing its agency base with the list of FSA authorised intermediaries.

He said NU has an agency base of approximately 4,000 intermediaries. The FSA has authorised 15,000.

The news follows outcry last year, when NU cut agencies where less than £40,000 premium was placed with the company.

"Having come through regulation we are open to new agency applications, but only from full time insurance intermediaries," said Gladwell.

He said the insurer would expect the new agencies to grow their accounts to around £100,000 premium within three years.

The insurer is also looking to develop 1,200 of its smallest agencies with the provision of marketing support and e-trading facilities.

Director of IB (intermediary business) specialist business Susan Adcock said brokers would have a dedicated account manager to help them develop their agencies.

The 1,200 brokers, as well as those joining the agency base, will have access to a new sales unit established solely to write new business for these brokers, as well as access to 'Bonus' underwriters who would come on to their premises.

NU pushes brokers to switch to e-trading
NU is to encourage brokers to switch to its EDI and e-services platforms for personal lines. NU director of intermediary support Greg Gladwell said NU would provide training and support to encourage brokers to make the switch over the next 12 months, finishing by 2008. Currently, 80% of NU's new personal lines business and two thirds of its existing business is written via EDI or e-services platforms.