Initiative rolled out to 130 staff following August pilot

Norwich Union has launched an underwriting academy to boost employee skills and improve service levels for advisers and customers.

The move builds on the insurer's successful service and claims academies introduced in April and May this year, and will be aimed at underwriting staff of all levels.

Following positive feedback from a pilot in York during August, the new academy has now been rolled out to 130 underwriting staff across York, Sheffield, Norwich and Stevenage.

The online course has components relating to specific areas of underwriting such as different medical conditions and identifying what can go wrong. Its modular format allows people to complete the programme in full, or dip in and out to suit their development needs. Each section is tested to ensure participants' understanding.

Michael Whyte, chief underwriter for Norwich Union, said: "Since the launch of our service academy in April 2007, we have had a tremendous response with enrollments outstripping our expectations. More than 700 staff have joined so far and almost double this number are due to take part next year. We have also already seen our first candidates graduate ahead of schedule, so we are confident we will see a similar response to this latest scheme.

"We are delighted about the wealth of learning opportunities that our academies bring to our people and customers, and are looking forward to seeing yet more programmes added to this range."