AXA-owned firm to make non-life debut with white-labelled home and pet cover

AXA-owned life insurance brand Sun Life Direct has rebranded as SunLife and is planning to enter the general insurance market.

The company, a trading name of AXA Wealth, will begin its foray into general insurance with a home product, which it expects to launch in either the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next.

SunLife will market the product but it will be underwritten by a single direct insurer or panel of insurers accessed through a broker. The company will decide which route to take in the next three months, but its preferred option is to use a broker to access a panel of insurers.

SunLife managing director Dean Lamble told Insurance Times: “All our early indications are that it will be a panel.

“With a broker panel we get the coverage of multiple providers and we ensure the customers can get best rates depending on their underwriting criteria. There is more of a challenge for a single provider to be able to provide all of that for mass market.”

The company also plans to launch pet insurance in the first half of 2015. It has no firm plans yet to offer motor insurance, but is considering it.

Lamble said: “We are analysing motor to see how and when we would enter, but it is not a current focus for us.”

Lamble acknowledged that the move could put SunLife into competition with its parent company, but he added that this would be “in a healthy way”.

He said: “A lot of companies out there have multiple brands and a lot of those brands compete. It is about the customer making the choice about what is right for them.”

As part of its rebrand SunLife is expanding its target market beyond its current specialism of over-50s customers to include families.

It plans to grow its current customer base of 800,000 to 2 million by 2020. Lamble said: “It is a reasonably aggressive plan. A lot of those new customers would be coming in from the general insurance side – the home and pet books. We have ambitions to be a reasonable-sized player.”