Farm insurer promises same service and commission to network members

Rural Insurance has decided to cut its ties with Broker Network when its contract expires at the end of the year.

Rural said it would continue to trade with the 120 Broker Network members it currently does regular business with and promised there would be no impact on broker commission levels.

Managing director Ian Barclay said: “The decision is based on our strategy to increase our proximity to our already solid broker base which we have developed over a number of years. Many of those relationships pre-date our relationship with Broker Network.

“By investing in getting closer to our trading partners we will gain a more complete understanding of theirs and their customers’ changing needs. Naturally, we have listened carefully to what our brokers have told us and this decision has been made with their interests firmly in mind.”

Rural Insurance remains on the panel of rival network Purple Partnership and has no definite plans to continue or end that smaller contract.

“It’s a question of looking at each relationship and seeing whether it brings the right value for the investment that is made. If we believe they bring value we will continue to support them. If we believe we can deliver the value elsewhere then we’ll invest elsewhere,” Barclay told Insurance Times.

Towergate-owned Broker Network posted a 42% decline in operating profits to £6.1m and turnover down 22% to £14.5m in 2013 following Aviva’s withdrawal late in 2012.

Broker Network insurer director Dene Smith said the network had alternative partner markets for farm insurance including Towergate-owned AIUA and BIBU and was “actively working to develop advantaged products in this and other sectors, for the exclusive benefit of network members.”

Smith added: “Broker Network’s wider insurer strategy is moving to a model of working with a core panel of strategic partners who will support network members across both commercial and personal lines.

“We are also working with a select panel of partner insurers who will support network members on either commercial or personal lines.

“We are developing network advantaged products with both our strategic and partner insurers which enable members and partner insurers to grow. We are also continuing to sign long-term strategic deals which simply emphasises the commitment of insurers to the network.”

Towergate is currently recruiting a new chief executive for Broker Network after Gary Duggan was appointed chief executive of its Paymentshield division.

Last month UK General-owned Rural revealed its ambition to become the second biggest farm insurer within three years.