The director of commercial underwriting at Norwich Union, John Seaton, has apologised to brokers and customers for poor service levels at the company's commercial underwriting business.

Seaton said: “There is no doubt about it, the service to our customers has not been what I would like to see. I'm prepared to admit this and apologise for it to our brokers.”

He blamed the performance shortfall on by the merger of CGU and Norwich Union and described the transition as a “tortuous experience” for underwriters and brokers alike.

In the last interim, CGNU's UK underwriting business showed a loss of £83m for the first six months of 2001, a minor improvement from its £118m loss for the same period in 2000.

Seaton's focus has been on the commercial motor and liability accounts, which suffered a £34m and £33m loss respectively.

“I've been working on the motor account since 1998. The changes we made then are starting to pay off.

“The liability account is where we need to pay a lot of attention. The operating ratio is horrendous,” he said.

Rate increases have to be implemented for employers' liability (EL) policies and NU will raise them annually, Seaton added.

“We now have an underwriting philosophy – we have an approach where we want to change the mix of our business to one where we hope it is more beneficial for us.

“The group's losses were in the biggest risks which came out at the time of the merger.”

  • Read Insurance Times' news analysis on the future of liability next week.

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