Insurer begins full re-entry to market after six years

Norwich Union (NU) is to make a full return to the coach market six years after pulling out of the sector.

The insurer is looking for broker partners to distribute its coach product in advance of a major push in the coming months.

NU has spent the past year working with broker Kerry London and, more recently, a small number of other brokers to begin developing its coach business.

The company is set to begin discussions in the coming weeks with other brokers in a bid to grow its book further.

It is targeting the smaller, predominantly UK coach fleets.

David Prior, head of schemes business at Norwich Union, said: “It has been a year since we got back into the market. We now have good quality business and good rating strength. We now want to ramp it up and get critical mass.”

NU is looking to gain at least a 10% market share of a market that is worth between £100m and £150m in annual premiums.

Prior said NU was looking to work with up to 50 brokers with existing good quality accounts and an “interest in a risk management approach”.

He insisted that it was committed to the coach sector: “There have been questions over our long-term commitment to the sector given that we exited previously. We have to keep reassuring the market that we are here to stay.”

NU withdrew from the coach market in 2001. At the time, NU is reported to have said that the market required a “specialist focus that we cannot deliver”.

Prior said the coach market was now attractive as it was better regulated with a culture of risk management.

Major insurers in the sector include Ensign, Illium, Allianz and Equity.

“The market is very competitive and other players have responded quite aggressively,” said Prior.

He insisted that NU was not looking to compete on price. NU was offering local service coupled with risk management advice and claims engineers.