Major insurers looking to double business book in profitable market

Zurich and Allianz Cornhill have revealed aggressive plans to increase their shares of the billion pound property investors market.

Allianz Cornhill is targeting the London property owners market, which it estimates is worth £1bn in premium.

It has more than tripled the size of its City team, from six to 23 staff, in a bid to double the size of its book of business to £100m within four years.

Paul Maidment, Allianz Cornhill's trading director for South and London, said the company would be looking to increase business from national brokers and London-based regional brokers. Service would be a key differentiator.

Zurich, meanwhile, is focusing on the regional market, thought to be worth about £500m in premium. It has set up three regional ‘hubs' - in Manchester, Sutton and Birmingham - and appointed seven regional development underwriters "to build local relationships".

While the company would not give exact figures, it said it was looking to double the size of its regional business within five years.

Richard Elliott, head of property investors at Zurich, said: "Property owners is a strategically important business for us. Most of our recent growth has been in London, but the regions have a lot of potential."

Elliott said Zurich was currently running a series of broker roadshows around the country in a bid to raise awareness of its new offering.

The property owners insurance market has seen a lot of activity in recent years, with high-profile moves between brokers and insurers. Last year, Willis and Heath Lambert became embroiled in a bitter legal row after Willis poached a property team from its rival.

The sector, though competitive, is seen as providing plenty of high-quality business, offering consistent returns to both underwriters and brokers.