...as R&SA awaits capital promised on Mendelsohn's departure

Norwich Union (NU) will extend its blitz on commercial underwriting in a move likely to make the most of the market, while rival Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) is waiting for capital to increase commercial underwriting.

This month NU intermediary business director Ken Wallace beefed up his commercial underwriting teams, using head office executives with underwriting experience.

He said the move had proved so successful, he would repeat it in December.

Wallace's brief was to write as much good business as possible before the third-quarter cut-off on 29 September.

"We've been getting feedback from brokers since August on their concerns about capacity, solvency and sustainability," he said.

"We decided we were in a good position on commercial, with plenty of capacity and good ratings strength [so] some of our top underwriters have been put back on the front line for the month."

The underwriters concentrated on small business accounts less than £100,000 premium.

"We've got the capacity and appetite for new business," Wallace said.

NU has also completed its suite of small business products with the launch of its hotel, restaurant and leisure cover launched on 16 September. It launched its office and surgery product in July and shop and salon product in April.

The timing coincides with difficulties at R&SA, whose ability to take advantage of the current hard commercial market is likely to be constrained until it has completed its capital raising.

Institutional investors forced R&SA group chief executive Bob Mendelsohn to resign last week in return for supporting the capital raising.

R&SA has denied rumours it planned to pull out of the high street intermediary, panel and small scheme motor market and creditor business.

A spokeswoman said: "We see a positive future for brokers on the personal lines side. We're having discussions with some brokers covering the pricing of some product lines where we see limited opportunities for profitable growth, but this doesn't undermine our overall commitment to the personal lines broker sector as a whole."

R&SA health care and assistance director Steve Wood said the insurer was committed to the creditor market and would continue to write new business that delivered the returns that R&SA required.