Thursday, 15 November 2012

Cancer Research partners with Towergate Insurance

Leading charity, Cancer Research UK has announced a partnership with Towergate Insurance, to provide additional funds for the charity. The partnership, covering home, travel, boat and caravan policies will be branded as "Help Beat Cancer Insurance". 

The partnership is for 3 years and the broker will provide Cancer Research UK with 30% of its commission for each "Help Beat Cancer" policy sold. The partnership builds on a long-standing CSR relationship between the 2 organisations and aims to generate £3 million to the charity over the 3 year partnership.

Policies will be available to the general public and not just supporters of the charity. Nevertheless  the £3 million target looks very ambitious, given that the charity, despite its fantastic brand, does not have any obvious channels to market the policies to a wider audience. However, Towergate has confirmed that aggregator distribution may be part of its plans in 2013. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Suzuki selects Carole Nash as motorcycle partner

Suzuki GB has selected Carole Nash, the specialist broker to provide its official motorcycle and scooter insurance scheme. Carole Nash plans to launch a quote and buy website in early 2013 and will provide sales support to the Suzuki dealer network. 

The decision follows a tender process and means the replacement of CIA Insurance, the broker which had held the Suzuki partnership since October 2009. 

Carole Nash is one of the broking businesses that was not included in the sale of the UK Groupama Insurance Company to Ageas in September 2012. 

The Suzuki car insurance partnership continues to be managed by Original Insurance Services, with cover underwritten by Zenith Insurance. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Moneyfacts partners with Just Retirement for equity release, the financial comparison website, has agreed a partnership with Just Retirement Solutions to provide an equity release advice service for its customers and users. 

In press coverage, Moneyfacts has made reference to the service being "comprehensive", but the panel of providers is restricted to just 4 - Aviva, Just Retirement Limited, Bridgewater and Stonehaven. 

Saga extends legal services partnership

Saga has this week extended its partnership with Parabis, to offer a range of legal services including fixed-price will-writing, estate planning, powers of attorney and conveyancing. Parabis, through its "Cogent Law" brand, has worked with both Saga and the AA since 2010, in providing a legal advice service. 

The significance of the deal is that it takes place in advance of the Solicitors Regulation Authority's (SRA) decision on Saga's "alternative business structure" (ABS) application. Such a licence would allow Saga to provide legal services in-house. 

A number of major brands and insurers are actively partnering with legal firms to secure an ABS licence. This will allow them to offer legal services and / or to help manage claims costs more effectively. 

RBS & Standard Life agree distribution partnership

RBS has selected Standard Life to provide investment solutions to its customers in a new 5-year deal. Using the Standard Life "wrap", the service will be made available to RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank advisers from December 2012. A direct service will launch in 2013. 

Products available include ISAs, Sipps, onshore and offshore bonds. 

The deal follows the announcement by RBS in June that it would be closing its IFA arm and moving to a restricted advice model in advance of the RDR. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

LifeSearch partners with for advised protection

LifeSearch has signed an agreement with, one of the "big 4" aggregators, to provide free protection advice to its users. Gocompare will continue to work with for non-advised protection sales and PMI Partners for over 50s life cover. customers buying policies through LifeSearch will also be able to access free advice on trusts and claims. 

LifeSearch and its CEO Tom Baigirie have championed the cause of advice-based protection for many years and this approach is also the basis of its other major partnerships, including (which also works with and Asda. 

Equity extends British Legion partnership

Equity Insurance Partnerships (EIP) has announced an extension of its relationship with the Royal British Legion. It will provide home and motor insurance under the "Poppy Insure" brand to the charity's 370,000 members and supporters. 

The partnership was announced in July 2012 and is due to run for 3 years. EIP has worked with the British Legion for 10 years, although it has offered home and motor, only since 2009. Prior to then, the Royal British Legion partnered with Allianz. 

The Royal British Legion works with a wide range of affinity providers, including MBNA (credit card), Coventry Building Society (savings accounts) and VetsmediCover (pet insurance). 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Ageas extends partnership with John Lewis

Ageas has announced that its partnership with John Lewis has been extended to include travel insurance. For the last 4 years, Ageas has offered car insurance to John Lewis customers. 

The change was highlighted in an earlier posting (25 May 2012) and represents a further loss for AXA Insurance, which held a range of partnerships with John Lewis until only a few months ago. At the time of writing, AXA remains listed as the household insurer for John Lewis customers, but RSA has previously announced that this business will move shortly.   

The announcement has been made in the same week that Ageas has acquired Groupama Insurance Company for £116 million. Unlike Ageas, Groupama is not regarded as a serious player in the affinity sector. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lighthouse signs 2 new affinity partnerships

Lighthouse Financial Advice has signed 2 new affinity partnerships in the space of a month, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). The membership of the RCN is 400,000 and BFAWU brings an additional 23,000 members. 

Lighthouse has been active for some time as a provider of financial  advice for affinity groups and also works with UNISON, Unite, GMB and the CSMA.  

It took over a number of LV='s affinity partners in 2007, when LV= outsourced its IFA provision to Lighthouse and it provides another example of the strength of IFAs in this space.  

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Aria Assistance partners with Pannone

Aria Assistance, formerly Europ Assistance, has announced a partnership with legal firm Pannone for the provision of a range of services including legal expense work, a legal helpline, public liability defence and claims recoveries. 

Pannone won a 5-way tender to secure the partnership, which is being provided by its white-label arm, Pannone Affinity Solutions. 

It's also interesting to see that Pannone has adopted the name "Affinity Solutions" for its white-label business. As a former director of the affinity consultancy, Affinity Solutions, I can only assume that they checked with Ageas (who bought it in 2005) that the name was available for them to use? 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

B&Q and Screwfix enter the small commercial market

B&Q and Screwfix have introduced a range of commercial policies to their trade customers, following the launch of van insurance with Hastings and liability & tools insurance with Trade Direct Insurance. This follows a detailed tender process, involving a significant number of insurers and brokers. 

Insurance will be marketed under the "Trade UK" brand, which currently provides a number of credit products to B&Q TradePoint and Screwfix trade customers, and will be marketed through a range of the retailers' channels including online and at point of sale.

The opportunity looks to be a significant one given the strength of B&Q and Screwfix brands in this market and the fact that the opportunity has been largely overlooked until now.

Monday, 16 July 2012

McCarthy & Stone launches financial services

McCarthy & Stone, the UK's largest private developer of retirement properties has announced its entry into the financial services market. 

It has announced a partnership with Age Partnership to offer equity release and annuity comparison services, as well as will writing with Irwin Mitchell and a funeral plan with Dignity.

Some reports suggest that it is targeting 500,000 financial services customers within 12 months and aiming to take on established providers such as Saga, RIAS and Age UK in an already active over-50s market. It is expected that a home insurance offering will follow shortly. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

RAC selects ACE as travel partner

RAC has chosen ACE Group as its partner to offer travel insurance to its 7 million-strong membership. The insurance will be marketed primarily online, but also through RAC's breakdown network. 

RAC mainly works with insurance brokers on its major insurance partnerships, including Junction (BISL) for motor, Heath Lambert for household and Devitts for motorbike insurance. 

ACE Group already has a strong portfolio of other travel insurance distribution partners, including ASDA, Santander and Citibank. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

ASDA Money launched with new card partner

ASDA has announced the rebranding of ASDA Financial Services to "ASDA Money" and also, a new credit card partnership with Sygma Bank, part of Creation Financial Services. 

Creation is one of the few active credit card providers within the UK affinity market and operates credit and store card programmes with JJB, Marriott, Flybe and a range of football clubs. Creation is itself part of LaSer UK, owned by BNP Paribas and Galeries Lafayette. 

ASDA has previously worked with GE Money and most recently, Santander, as its credit card provider. Interestingly, its new website appears to be encouraging existing ASDA cardholders with a Santander-branded card, to move to the new card; which it claims is the first supermarket credit card offering cashback.

Friday, 6 July 2012

ASDA selects Brightside for home & motor

ASDA has selected Brightside as its new partner for car and home insurance. The Bristol-based broker will shortly replace BDML (Capita) as ASDA's partner, although it is understood that BDML will continue to provide pet insurance through its Thornside subsidiary. The future of ASDA's van insurance partnership with BDML is currently unknown.

Given its recent partnership with Debenhams on car insurance, this represents a major coup for Brightside, although given ASDA's well-known approach to hard negotiations, competitiveness and changing partners, it is likely to have to contend with small margins and short-term deals for the life of the partnership. 

ASDA continues to work with ACE for travel insurance and 3 separate partners (Lifesearch, LV= and Ageas Protect) for its range of protection products. 

Brightside wins Debenhams motor account

Debenhams has selected Brightside, the Bristol-based broker, as the provider of its car insurance offering. Motor insurance will be offered through Brightside's "Commercial Vehicle Direct" brand and will be available online and via the telephone. 

Debenhams already has a range of insurance partners, including Heath Lambert for household (signed in 2009), Insure & Go for travel and for life assurance. 

It is not altogether clear that there is sufficient brand stretch for Debenhams to make a huge success of car insurance, particularly if it seeks to operate through the aggregators, and  also, whether Brightside will be able to access any useful new rating data from working with the retailer. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

RSA renews Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank partnership

RSA has announced the renewal of its partnership with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks for the provision of home and motor insurance for 5 more years. 

It's another positive move for the RSA team, which has been increasingly active in partnerships in recent months and which has also announced recent wins with John Lewis Partnerships, Homebase and Argos. This partnership was previously held by Junction which picked it up in 2003, when it was said to be worth "£317 million". 

Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks continue to partner with Chartis for travel insurance and Hiscox for high value household insurance. In addition, both work with Giles Insurance Brokers to source commercial insurances for their business customers. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tesco Bank re-selects Aviva for protection

Tesco Bank has announced a 5-year partnership with Aviva for the provision of protection products, including critical illness and an over 50s option. The partnership will commence later in 2012 and products will be available online and via the phone. 

Friends Life currently provides a range of similar products for Tesco Bank and has done so since December 2009. Aviva had a previous partnership with Tesco to provide protection products, which ended in early 2006. At the time, an unwillingness to commit the levels of resource needed by Tesco was give as a reason for the change. 

It is not known whether the protection partnership was the subject of a detailed tender exercise, but it is understood that Tesco Bank did not ask Ageas Protect, the protection arm of its general insurance partner, Ageas, to tender for the protection business. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Can Affinity Marketing Work for Insurers & Brokers on the Aggregators?

Copy of an article published on this week's Post Magazine website:

It’s hardly surprising why insurers, brokers and affinity groups want their products to appear on the aggregators; when for personal lines, it represents an ever-expanding marketing channel. The rush to the channel has however, recently led to a re-appraisal of the relationship between providers and their partners, as well as a greater degree of realism on both sides.

The danger for insurance providers has always been that using affinity brands runs the risks of “cannibalising” customers and perhaps more importantly, losing many of the benefits of working with affinity brands in the first place. For providers, these include the strength of those brands in the eyes of their customers, members or donors, the access and channels they command and increasingly, the valuable data that can be used to help underwriters and marketers.  

Affinity groups like the aggregators because of (relatively) low acquisition costs and the ability to reach customers who might not otherwise access the brand. However, these new customers can cause a real problem to insurers and brokers, who find them to be very different from those an affinity partner attracts through its more “traditional” channels.

Take the example of a retailer such as Marks & Spencer attracting a new (and different) type of customer through the aggregators; when compared with more traditional consumers, who regularly use its stores or branded credit cards. This may sound like a benefit to both parties in a partnership, but not if new aggregator customers are overly focused on price and demonstrate limited brand loyalty. Some affinity partners may argue that this is not their problem, but if an account’s performance and loss ratios suffer, insurers will need to take rating action which can impact all the affinity group’s insurance customers.

In the recent past, some insurers considered charging higher rates on the aggregators than through other channels, for their affinity brands, but these efforts have been resisted by the major aggregators who can negotiate strongly in ensuring that their prices are not undercut elsewhere. Aggregators’ ultimate control over the number and type of brands that appear on their sites is also something that providers are reluctant to ignore! 

Given that charging more on the aggregators is not viable, most providers have had to look at alternatives. Some have gone as far as removing poor performing affinity brands from the aggregators, but this is unlikely to provide a viable solution in a serious “partnership”.

More sophisticated providers have instead adopted a more creative approach. Insurers have again come to realise that the best affinity groups can add real value to the partnership through the use of data that can be reflected in “dynamic pricing” to reach the most profitable and loyal customers; even through the aggregators. Providers can and must access valuable data from their partners – for example, evidence of a profitable existing relationship – such as a retailer’s credit or store card, a motor manufacturer’s finance agreement, or a lender’s credit score. In these cases, rating can be enhanced and a targeted quote provided, to ensure the profitability of the wider partnership.

There remains little doubt that the aggregator channel is here to stay, but affinity groups are increasingly aware that the best partnerships require more than just brand strength or product enhancements to work effectively on the aggregator channel. In many respects, the sharing of data and common objectives, suggests a far more equitable relationship between the provider, the affinity group and the aggregator. It also serves as a great reminder of the complexity but also the benefits of partnership marketing. 

Neil Batley
Managing Director
Benalder Consulting

Friday, 15 June 2012

First Direct renews partnership with Equity

First Direct has announced the extension of its long-term partnership with Equity Insurance Partnerships (EIP) and which has now been in place for over 5 years.

The renewal of the relationship has been highlighted as "long-term" but no details of the length of the deal have yet emerged. It does however, represent an impressive result for EIP, which has a strong stable of motor partnerships with brands including, Honda, Nissan and Santander.

First Direct, in common with its parent HSBC, continues to work with Aviva for its home and pet insurance offerings. HSBC however, maintains a long-term partnership with Junction for its own motor insurance.

M&S and HSBC extend banking joint venture

Marks & Spencer has announced plans to open 50 in-store bank branches over the next 2 years, and to re-brand M&S Money as M&S Bank.

It is a significant development for Marks & Spencer and in addition to the card, loans, savings and insurance products currently offered by M&S Money, the product range will extend to current accounts this autumn and mortgages at a later date.

It is understood that M&S Bank will operate under a separate banking licence to HSBC, but that it remains a subsidiary of the bank. However, profits will be continue to be split 50:50 between the 2 partners; last year the financial services business contributed profits of just over £50 million to M&S's operating profits.

The reputational risk of offering M&S branded mortgages is probably the most significant issue for the new bank, but these will effectively be HSBC products, and presumably subject to the same underwriting rules. The move into mortgages and current accounts pre-empts a similar move expected by Tesco Bank this year.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

L&G renews major partnership with Nationwide

L&G has announced the renewal of its partnership with Nationwide, to market protection products through the building society's 1,000-strong adviser network.

The partnership means that L&G maintains its leading position as a provider of term and critical illness products to the society's customers and builds on other significant partnerships, including those with Yorkshire Building Society and Barclays announced in the last 12 months. 

However, as with its approach to general insurance partnerships, Nationwide continues to work with a range of providers including AXA Sun Life, Aviva and Pinnacle to offer an over 55s life policy, income protection and "Lifestyle Protector" products respectively.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Tesco launches van and tradesman insurance with AXA

Tesco has announced the launch of specialist van and tradesman covers for SMEs, in a new partnership with AXA. The insurer is responsible for the "sales, adminstration and underwriting" of the new products and it is understood that this is through its Partner Solutions team based in Glasgow.

Tesco van insurance can also include motor breakdown and legal cover provided by AXA Assistance and Lawclub respectively. The tradesman policy is based primarily on a public liability cover, which can be extended to include employer's liability, tools and trailer contents.

The launch of SME covers by Tesco does not come as a surprise, although the choice of AXA over its car and houseold insurance joint venture partner, Ageas, is of some interest.  

Friday, 25 May 2012

RSA announces John Lewis partnership

RSA has announced a partnership to provide household and pet insurance to John Lewis and Waitrose customers.

The announcement came in RSA's results for the first quarter of 2012 and unusually for such a major partnership deal, this was made in advance of final contracts being signed. (Update: Official confirmation of the deal made on 24 July 2012.)

The partnership follows a detailed tender exercise managed by the John Lewis Partnership in 2011 and represents a significant loss for AXA; of what is widely regarded as one of the UK's leading affinity partnerships. AXA remains the incumbent insurer for household, pet, travel, wedding and event covers. It is understood that the travel cover is also likely to be removed from AXA's portfolio and further launch announcements are expected soon.

Ageas continues as the motor provider through its UKAIS operation and Friends Life as the life provider.