Insurer aims to become top three player in market

Zurich plans to become a top three player in the marine cargo market and has appointed six staff, including a team from CNA, to spearhead its regional growth.

The insurer’s new marine cargo division, which began trading on 1 Feb, will sit within its broker business. It will be headed by Alan Wilkins, who spent the last four years as marine cargo regional underwriting and development manager for CNA.

Wilkins’ appointment, together with four members of his team, follows an approach he made to Zurich suggesting it develop its marine cargo business.

Guy Smith, a marine underwriter has also joined from Aon.

The new appointments will be located in Zurich’s offices in Birmingham, Leeds and London.

Wilkins said he expected to make further appointments as the business grew, but would utilise underwriting and sales expertise from other parts of the group. Though the marine products - which includes cover for air, rail and road transit - will be available to all its brokers, the insurer will target its larger distribution partners.

Zurich’s global marine business is currently worth $675m (£344m), a significant proportion of which is cargo. Royal & Sun Alliance is the largest player in the UK.

Wilkins said: “We spotted a gap in the European general insurance market. The message to our brokers is we can close that gap. The potential to cross-sell is enormous.”

He added: “Many clients don’t realise they need cover for their cargo. A significant slice of them have none, because there is a misunderstanding that carriers will repay them in full for damage.”

Dave Smith, managing director of Zurich's broker division, said: “Our new Marine Cargo team will bring specialist knowledge and expertise to quickly establish our capability in this area. We have the foundation stone to reach a top third position in the UK regional marine market.”