Zurich is returning to the direct insurance market in the UK, a move that will result in 243 lost roles, including 149 job cuts.

Zurich will form a strategic partnership with its subsidiary Endsleigh in a return planned for later this year.

The insurer’s UK general insurance business will offer motor and home insurance on aggregators under the Zurich brand, with Endsleigh carrying out sales, servicing and premium collections.

Personal lines director Karl Bedlow said: “This will be a great partnership, combining Zurich’s proven expertise in underwriting, claims and pricing with Endsleigh’s systems and service excellence, giving us increased flexibility to adapt to a changing market.

“The new low-cost model recognises the reality of an aggregator-dominated direct personal lines market in the UK.

“This is an important move for our business – but it’s important to stress that our total commitment to the broker market and to brokers themselves remains a fundamental priority.

“We are already active in the personal lines market and will remain so, and our commitment to personal lines brokers won’t be affected by this development.”

The changes will impact on staff in a number of areas, including customer services, claims, finance and offshore teams.

Overall there will be a reduction of 243 roles including:

  • 149 redundancies, the majority of which will be in Cardiff
  • A reduction of 59 roles as a result of contracts expiring and natural turnover of employees
  • A reduction of 78 full-time roles in Bangalore and Pune, affecting staff working on personal lines direct service calls and claims

Zurich said it is creating 43 new roles within the property claims and finance operations teams in Whiteley, Hampshire.

Bedlow added: “We do recognise that these changes mean difficult messages for some of our employees, and we are committed to minimising the impact on people by reducing job numbers through redeployment, natural turnover and voluntary measures wherever possible.

“However we have to make sure that we can flexibly adapt our operational model and processes to meet constantly changing market conditions, and that also means having the right number of people to deliver our products and services according to the level of demand."

Endsleigh’s managing director Ian Passmore said: “We’re delighted to be entering this new partnership with Zurich. Both businesses will benefit from an arrangement which makes the most of all our combined strengths.”