Commercial insurer PremierLine has replaced Zenith with Allianz Cornhill as its underwriter after an MBO.

The Allianz Cornhill deal was signed late last week.

PremierLine managing director Barrie Wells has acquired full control of the direct insurer from holding company Acott, Tilley & Wells Holdings which owns Zenith Insurance. PremierLine would not disclose the amount paid.

A source close to the insurer said employees had received letters outlining potential changes. He said there was a chance that call centres could be outsourced.

PremierLine is a direct commercial insurance specialist that focuses its business in the SME sector. It was launched early in 2002 and has 6,400 customers. It will continue to be based in Lancaster.

Wells said: "Allianz Cornhill is an insurance company which has a long-term view of the SME market, recognises the potential value of this lucrative sector and has demonstrated to us that it has a commitment to SMEs. We are completely comfortable that this preferred option is a sound way forward."