Brokers to be given direct access to underwriters

Zurich has overhauled its broker proposition to combine its personal and commercial businesses.

Under the restructure brokers will be given direct access to underwriters who will manage entire accounts rather than individual lines of business.

Dave Smith, incoming managing director of Zurich's broker operations, said the re-organisation would allow the insurer to greater utilise cross- selling techniques. He said: "We want them [brokers] to bring the whole account to us, not just sections".

"Currently they know about high net worth and construction but not necessarily our seven other lines."

Zurich's reorganisation has received a guarded welcome from brokers. One market source told Insurance Times: "In my experience, the best model is when a relationship manager oversees everything across all levels and ensures brokers have direct contact with underwriters.

"Zurich's model could work but its success or failure depends on building broker relationships with underwriters. If the account executive is trying to be a jack of all trades, then I foresee some problems. The proof of the pudding will be in the implementation."

Smith said Zurich had implemented changes in response to the consolidating broker market, which was now demanding higher service levels from insurers as competition heats up on a regional level.

The announcement comes just weeks after Ian Stuart was replaced as chief executive by Guy Munnoch. Munnoch has already executed a restructure of the company's UK operations into: broker, commercial direct (Zurich Municipal); retail (personal, small commercial, direct); partnerships and affinity.