British Gas customers to benefit from top 25 broker's SME product

Centrica is running a pilot with commercial broker Oval to sell SME insurance to its British Gas customers.

The utility company is selling direct insurance under its British Gas brand underwritten by a panel of three insurers - Allianz Cornhill, Norwich Union and NIG.

A spokesman for Centrica said: "A pilot gives all parties the chance to see how it is going and take it from there. However, it is too early to give the final result of the scheme."

Market sources reported that Centrica was likely to make a final decision on whether to roll out the scheme nationwide in January. The pilot is currently running in the Midlands.

A market source said: "Centrica wants to prove two things by its pilot - first, that its British Gas customers want to buy insurance from the company, and second, to get hold of customer renewal dates."

Working through its broker partner Oval, Centrica is understood to have consulted a number of insurers before settling on a panel of three. The same panel is likely to be used if the scheme is rolled out further later this month.

Through the British Gas brand Centrica has access to more than 650,000 business customers, the bulk of which are SMEs. Initial reports from market sources indicate the pilot is running over target.

The utility is also looking at setting up a range of financial services including loans and insurance products.

Oval, Allianz Cornhill, Norwich Union and NIG declined to comment.