Although the Insurance Times team is not made up of fortune tellers or palm readers, it has made a fair few accurate predictions over the past 12 months. But reading the crystal ball for a living is not an option – some predictions really did miss their mark.
Prediction: In January, merger rumours surrounded Royal & Sunalliance (RSA) and Insurance Times predicted that Zurich wanted to buy it.
What happened: Twelve months on, merger rumours still surround RSA but as yet no announcements have been made.
Prediction: Our New Year predictions at the beginning of 2000 said that commercial rates would rise during the year.
What happened: Everyone piled into commercial business. Allianz Cornhill announced no renewals without price rises.
Prediction: Bacon & Woodrow (B&W) said that ecommerce would force up household rates and Norwich Union said it would rise by 10%.
What happened: Rates haven't risen yet but B&W analyst Nigel Munns is standing by the prediction. Munns said the market has needed a rate rise for the past five years and that the recent floods and storms would be enough to push them up.
Prediction: In February, Andrew Paddick said the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) would never get Office of Fair Trading (OFT) approval. “The OFT has no powers to authorise anything and there is no such thing as OFT clearance,” he said.
What happened: OFT is set to announce its decision in January.
Prediction: CGU former head of broker relations Tony Cornell claimed that the insurer would scrap its broker club Club Elite once the merger with Norwich Union was finalised.
What happened: Club Elite is going.
Prediction: Leading analyst Mark Williamson from RZH predicted that Axa may be planning another UK acquisition following its merger with Guardian in May of last year. Speculation was prompted by Axa moving to buy out the minority shareholding in the subsidiary company for its UK operations, Sun Life and Provincial Holdings.
What happened: It used the purchase to switch to the French Stock Market.
Prediction: We predicted that Chartwell Underwriting would be snapped up by Independent following news that it was to be put up for sale. Independent denied this but Chartwell chairman Jeremy Adams admitted that the company had been the subject of several approaches.
What happened: Hiscox bought the rights to renew Chartwell's £20m book of specialist liability business for £500,000 in July.
Prediction: Speculation was mounting in June over the future of Lloyd's syndicate 1607, after its main capital provider Cigna suddenly announced plans to withdraw from the London reinsurance market.
Cigna refused to quash rumours that it would also withdraw backing from Lloyd's syndicate Jonathan Thomas.
What happened: The syndicate came to an amicable agreement with Cigna, which was committed to the syndicate until 2001, that it would find an alternative corporate backer if possible. This month corporate member Creechurch became the backer of 1607 and its parallel syndicate 2607 and increased its capacity by more than £10m.
Prediction: Also in June the GISC faced the humiliating task of rewriting its rulebook just two weeks after its much-trumpeted launch. Broker bosses Mike Williams and Chris Arter claimed the solvency rules were unworkable.
What happened: Solvency rules were changed.
Prediction: In July speculation was mounting over the future of Lloyd's motor syndicate 980 (Ensign) after Australian insurer QBE's successful takeover of its parent company Limit. Insurance Times predicted that it faced a uncertain future.
What happened: Syndicate 980 had a management buy-out.
Prediction: Michael Dawson, chief executive at Cox, hinted that the motor syndicate Equity Red Star might leave Lloyd's if the latest reforms failed to deliver competitiveness.
What happened: Dawson confirmed that Equity Red Star is still at Lloyd's. He declined to comment further.
Prediction: It was reported in July that RSA was considering outsourcing thousands of jobs from IT, personnel and finance following the export of 50 processing jobs to India.
What happened: RSA was unable to comment on the progress of its review at the time of going to press.
Prediction: In September Axa was poised to announce its new loss adjusting panel after whittling down the number of contenders from eight to four.
A source close to the tendering process told Insurance Times the four shortlisted adjusters were GAB Robins, Cunningham Lindsey, Miller Pycraft and Ashworth Mairs Group.
Axa declined to comment while the tendering process was still active.
What happened: In November, Axa appointed Cunningham Lindsey and GAB Robins as its preferred loss adjusters for the next three years.
The two firms were selected from Axa's eight existing loss adjusters including two that had reached the final due diligence stage: Ashworth Mairs Group and Miller Pycraft.
Gary Caswell, director of resourcing at Axa, said: “Cunningham Lindsey and GAB Robins were chosen because of their strategic fit with Axa's business and their overall technical and commercial capabilities.”
Prediction: At the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) conference in October, Independent Insurance announced it was considering scrapping individual risk surveys ahead of offering cover. The shock volte-face by Independent was revealed by marketing and ecommerce boss Andy Hawkes.
He said companies had to be prepared to sacrifice sacred cows to pursue successful ecommerce strategies and, for Independent, that could mean dropping surveys.
What happened: Independent confirmed it was still considering the change in the CII Journal in November.
Prediction: In October we reported that insurers were culling thousands of small-time insurance sellers ahead of the deadline in April next year when the GISC rules come into force.
Axa has taken the lead by writing to 2,500 of its 18,000 agency holders, giving them one month's notice and contacting their clients direct. Other insurers admit they are also examining their agency bases along the same lines.
What happened: Axa was unable to comment at the time of going to press.
Prediction: AIG was hotly tipped in Insurance Times in November as the favourite to acquire niche motor insurer Sabre. Sabre's future had been under a cloud since its parent company CGU merged with Norwich Union.
What happened: AIG declined to comment.
Prediction: Prompt, the UK's second biggest premium finance house, was reported to have bought Tifco, the third biggest, after a hot tip off. But there was no confirmation from either of the two companies.
What happened: Four weeks later the deal was officially announced, much to the relief of the editor.
Prediction: In December we reported that Folgate Insurance's German owners were on the hunt for another UK general insurer. Folgate's parent company is Wüstenrot and Württembergische (W&W).
Director Carlos Schmitt said: “We're not looking to buy CGNU but there are some medium-sized players. It must fit with Folgate, It must be broker-oriented.”
What happened: Folgate was unable to comment on its acquisition strategy at the time of going to press.