Insurer hits out at “hysteria” in the market

Quinn Insurance, the Irish insurer, has hit back at speculation surrounding the financial strength of the company, claiming that it has become a target following the crisis at AIG.

Last week, Sean Quinn, Quinn Group chairman, confirmed his family lost more than €1bn (£902m) by investing in the now nationalised Anglo Irish Bank.

This followed a €3.25m fine for Quinn Insurance last October after breaches of regulatory requirements. Sean Quinn faced a €200,000 penalty and was forced to step down from the board of the insurance company.

However, Richard Stafford, Quinn’s commercial director, said the insurer had been singled out by the industry, claiming it was looking for an event to turn the market following AIG’s near collapse.

“I got the general impression the insurance industry was wishing for an event to happen. There was a bit of hysteria on the insurance side around AIG. Now everyone is realising that we are moving on.”

Last year Quinn Insurance was removed from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) list of approved professional indemnity insurers and withdrew from Moody’s credit ratings.

However, Stafford said he expected the industry to alter its perception of the company. “We are always open to criticism,” he said. “As the market hardens, the attitude against us will change.

We are very confident of coming out the other side.”

Quinn currently has agencies with about 750 brokers and Stafford said any speculation that it was withdrawing its UK business was wrong. But he admitted that it was not accepting new business with certain brokers.

He said the company currently had no plans to increase rates aggressively this year but was keen to expand its presence in the UK.

“We currently have 2% market share in the liability market” he said. “We hope to grow to 5% market share over a number of years.”

The insurer, which has an office in Manchester, opened a base in London in July for 30 staff and to service brokers in the South.

See also: Five things you didn’t know about… (Colin Morgan, chief executive, Quinn Insurance) and analysis: Ambition in the UK