NU and Stuart Alexander blasted over £75,000 mid-term poach

Broker Stuart Alexander and Norwich Union (NU) have been accused of unethical business practices after poaching a client from a broker during the mid-term of the policy.

Granard Insurance Brokers contacted Insurance Times after it lost a £75,000 charity risk to Stuart Alexander.

Company partner Lyn Bounds said Granard renewed a policy for a Christian homeless shelter in April contacting several insurers in the process, including NU, who refused it. The policy was eventually placed with Ecclesiastical.

Three months later the policy was cancelled because the client had been offered a "better deal" through Stuart Alexander, which has an exclusive charity scheme with NU.

Bounds claimed NU had been chasing charity business from small brokers and criticised both companies' behaviour. She said: "This is unethical and immoral. In my 25-year career I have never known any company to quote mid-term."

Ecclesiastical Gloucester regional manager Keith Hall also questioned the behaviour.

"We have held this risk with [Granard] for 12 years. But when the rates start dropping the proper way of doing business is forgotten. Quoting mid-term is not something we would do."

An independent broker, who did not want to be named, said the practice was a sign of "absolute desperation" on the part of insurers. Insurers "are so greedy for business they will do anything to get it," the source said.

Stuart Alexander denied it had acted unethically. Chief operating officer Graham Coates said the broker had been in contact with the client "for some time" prior to renewal. "If the client chose to use Stuart Alexander at a later date then that is up to them," he said.

NU agricultural and leisure underwriter Jeremy Upcroft said the company supported annual insurance policies, adding: "It is not NU policy to attack business mid-term." He said a committee meeting at the charity may not have coincided with the policy renewal date, and that the client may have decided at a later date to switch to Stuart Alexander.