Zurich to offer cover to 21,000 HHH policyholders to thwart NU Direct

Zurich will write to its 21,000 Hill House Hammond (HHH) policyholders directly and offer cover rather than see them snapped up by NU Direct.

A spokeswoman from Zurich said: "Zurich has cancelled its agency agreement with HHH with the view to redistribute the business back through the intermediary channel."

A source close to the company said it would write to the Zurich policyholders asking them to renew through a broker.

The move follows Norwich Union's (NU) announcement that it has exclusive rights to approach HHH policyholders. The clause in HHH's agency agreement is claimed to stipulate that customer ownership switches from it to the underwriter as soon as it ceases trading.

NU maintains the clause has been "misinterpreted" by HHH's other panel of insurers. An NU spokesman said: "This [he clause) does not give the panel exclusive rights in respect of those customers and does not prevent us from offering those customers a NU product."

It is understood that NU will also be challenged by other insurers, with some considering legal action. But the spokesman added: "If any legal challenge were to be mounted, we are confident of our position."

NU will also offer other HHH customers its products and those who decline will be transferred to BDML Connect, who will redirect customers to its panel of insurers. It is also unclear which policyholders NU will transfer over to BDML.

A BDML spokesman said: "Conversations are continuing with NU to finalise the criteria, volume and classes of business to be broked by BDML."

Currently, not all of HHH's panel of insurers are on BDML's panel and insurers are concerned about whether they will be considered.

One provider excluded from the panel to mop up the left over HHH policyholders is Churchill.