Folgate is fighting back against plans by insurers to sell more small business direct by rolling out a small business servicing proposition across its office network.

The proposition, Folgate Riskline, was developed by Folgate-owned broker Duncan Pocock in 1997 as a way to lower the cost of servicing package small and medium enterprise (SME) business.

"We didn't wish to offer a lesser service but had to find a way of reducing cost," said Duncan Pocock's marketing director Julian Palmer.

Riskline, which mixes call centre technology with traditional broking service, now handles gross written premium of £3.5m and is the most profitable part of Duncan Pocock.

It predominantly handles SME business with premiums of less than £5,000, but is also used for personal lines business and larger commercial business, where appropriate.

As part of a strategy to recognise best practice in each of the Folgate businesses and roll it out across the group, Riskline was trialed in Folgate's Hull-based Devonshire Wilson business from August 2003.

After the success of that pilot it will now be rolled out across all of Folgate's businesses, starting with the Ilkley office of SMG in June.

The training formulated by Duncan Pocock for its Riskline staff is also being rolled out across Folgate.

It involves five three-month training modules covering foundation, intermediate and advanced level commercial and personal lines knowledge.

Completion of the programme acts as a licence for Riskline staff to give advice, Palmer said.

Folgate will also create a team of trainers to deliver the programme, with a dedicated trainer to be located at each Folgate office.

Palmer, who has also been promoted to group marketing executive at Folgate, will be responsible for rolling out Riskline and implementing the training programme.