Insurer aims to double professional lines business within three years

Norwich Union (NU) is to begin an aggressive drive to double the size of its professional lines business to £500m within three years, Insurance Times has learned.

The insurer will focus on the engineering, group personal accident, latent defect and contingency and guarantee markets, while continuing to grow its more established professional indemnity, marine and directors’ & officers’ (D&O) lines.

The move follows admissions that the insurer has been punching under its weight in the specialist market. NU’s specialist book is currently worth £250m – a third of which is professional indemnity (PI).

“As a complete grouping, the specialist lines are very profitable, and therefore are very important to our business,” said Mark Hynes, NU director of trading.

“The PI market is very competitive,” Hynes told Insurance Times. “We have made significant investment in an attempt to automate and streamline the business.”

This includes moving products onto the Imarket panel over the next couple of months, he said.

“Some of our specialist lines are not as modern as they could be. They are too paper-based,” Hynes added.

Following a review of its marine business, significant revisions of the company’s PI products are expected. A new product for miscellaneous classes is also set to be rolled out.

Meanwhile a significant marketing budget is being used to drive a D&O cross-selling campaign.

Hynes said that interest from both specialist and non-specialist brokers was growing. Of its specialist lines broker base, numbering 3,500, over 80% of total business is accounted for by the top 250.

“Brokers are looking to trade on a deals basis; customers are buying in packages. We can tack on some of our products. As covers become more automated, smaller non-specialist brokers will have an opportunity to get more involved.”

Hynes added that a lower volume of clients than in other markets allowed the company to maintain its service more effectively.

The company said that staff would be added but there would be no sustained recruitment drive. NU currently has 175 specialist lines staff spread across its business, grouped under single management.