Chief exec says deals with core insurers have been strengthened

Westinsure chief executive Max Hardman says the broker alliance continues to go from “strength to strength” in his outline of plans for 2010.

It follows what Hardman claims was one of the group’s most successful years to date in 2009, when it grew gross written premium (GWP) to £300m and added 35 new brokers, to take its total number of member offices to more than 200.

Hardman took control of Westinsure in July when its managing director Denis Morgan confirmed he was stepping down.

The company has since moved its headquarters from Plymouth closer to Hardman’s base in Swindon. He confirmed that he was in consultation with a small number of staff over the possibility of transferring across.

Hardman said Westinsure is aiming to increase its GWP by a further £25m this year, and is targeting an additional 20 to 30 new broker members. “We see ourselves as pretty unique in the marketplace. We are the only totally independent broker network out there. All the rest are either part of or owned by a larger organisation, which could sometimes have a hidden agenda.”

Last year, Insurance Times reported Zurich’s withdrawal from the Westinsure panel. The insurer has since confirmed it also ended its relationship with Cobra Network. However, Hardman insisted that the group had moved on by strengthening its deals with its core insurers, which include AXA, Allianz, Groupama, Fortis, LV=, MMA and NIG.

“What we are very much doing is concentrating on getting business through our partner arrangements and deals. We have got good support from our insurers and it is going very well,” he added.

In recent years, Westinsure has been targeted as a possible acquisition by other networks, but Hardman said the group would remain independent for now.

“We’ve clearly identified where Westinsure stands in the marketplace as an independent group,” he said.

“Our plans are to continue to consolidate Westinsure in its own right. We are in a very strong position. We have no sort of financial worries at all.”