Chief executive accepts SME ‘less prominent’ in insurer’s portfolio

Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) is planning to rejuvenate its SME offering and begin a major offensive to develop its specialist business lines in the coming weeks, its chief executive has revealed.

Speaking to Insurance Times this week, Bridget McIntyre accepted that the insurer currently had “less prominence” in the SME market, but said that the company would look to boost its presence in the summer.

R&SA has faced criticisms from some sectors of the broking market that it has “lost its way” in the fiercely competitive SME sector, stating that it is no longer competitive or willing to quote on a wide range of risk classes.

In response McIntyre said: “A lot of people are piling into SME at the moment. But we are playing market-wide and may have less prominence in the SME sector. We have greater opportunities in the mid-end at present.”

She added: “But we are developing an offering for SMEs in the coming months. When we have a new IT platform we will have greater flexibility in what we do. We won’t develop our SME proposition until we have that.”

R&SA is planning to unveil its new IT platform in July. McIntyre said the platform would provide the backdrop for the insurer’s develop-ment of its specialist trading units. She highlighted property investors, marine and renewable energy as key areas of development.

The property owners market has seen a lot of interest from the insurance sector in recent months. Last year, Zurich and Allianz unveiled aggressive plans

to increase their share of the billion pound market (News, 20 July 2006).

The sector, though competitive, is seen as providing plenty of high-quality business, offering consistent returns to both underwriters and brokers.

McIntyre said R&SA may make bolt-on acquisitions to support the growth of its specialist trading divisions.

She added: “In 2007 we will prove our model works in terms of sustainability, based on strong underwriting and not falling victim to the [market] cycle.”