Thursday, 21 November 2013

Markerstudy buys BDML from Capita

Markerstudy has bought a number of Capita's loss-making insurance businesses including affinity specialist, BDML, which the outsourcer bought back in 2005. The deal includes other Capita brands including Sureterm, Lancaster and Delta Underwriting and all will be positioned within Markerstudy Retail. 

Within the partnerships' market, BDML is an interesting player and one which has come under pressure from other affinity brokers in recent years. For example, it lost partnerships with ASDA and Argos to Brightside - a business which some suggest remains a target for Markerstudy.   

BDML continues to manage the home and motor panels for Virgin Money and is a significant provider of pet insurance partnerships for ASDA, Debenhams, pdsa and Pets at Home. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

AA and Saga enter the legal services market

The AA has announced the creation of "AA Law" in a joint venture with Bristol-based solicitors, Lyons Davidson. As with earlier market entrants such as Ageas and Admiral, AA Law has secured an ABS (alternative business structure) licence in partnership with an established law firm. 

AA Law will launch on 1st December and is planning to handle personal injury (PI) and other litigation linked to motor accidents involving its 16 million members and customers. Contract and employment services are scheduled to follow next year. Lyons Davidson already provides the AA's legal helpline and motor legal expenses policy and has already set up a similar ABS arrangement with Admiral. 

Also today, Saga has announced the creation of "Saga Law" in partnership with Parabis Law, which has provided legal services to the over-50s specialist for over 10 years. The new service is expected to launch in 2014. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Equity Insurance Partnerships bought by NMG

Equity Insurance Partnerships (EIP) has been sold to NMG Group (subject to regulatory approval), an international consulting and advisory group.

The sale of EIP had been expected since the change of ownership of its parent, Equity Insurance Group at the start of this year. EIP is a significant affinity broker with a number of motor manufacturer partnerships (including Renault, Honda and Mazda), as well as others with First Direct, Royal British Legion and Costco. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the purchase is that NMG currently has a major stake in iGO4, a specialist provider of insurance solutions for brands operating on the aggregators. The corporate press release mentions the "synergies" of the two businesses working closely together and it will be interesting to see what this means in practice. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks partner with Origen for financial advice...but only for private banking and business customers

Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks have announced a partnership with Origen Financial Services to provide financial advice for their business and private banking customers. 

Origen, a subsidiary of Aegon, will act as a "referral partner" for the two banks and its advice service will cover corporate and personal pensions, investments, protection and retirement planning. 

The service does not extend to retail banking customers of Yorkshire and Clydesdale. Until April 2013, the banks offered an "in-branch retail advice service" in partnership with AXA, but this ended with the closure of AXA's bancassurance arm. The banks have stated that they have no plans to replace AXA. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

FirstAssist re-brands as Cigna with a new focus on health?

FirstAssist Insurance Services has re-branded as Cigna Insurance Services and, at the same time, has announced "ambitious growth plans for the UK affinity market". 

FirstAssist has over 160 partnerships, but has traditionally been best known for its activity in the travel insurance sector where it has some significant partnerships including Halifax Bank, Sainsbury's and esure. 

It appears that Cigna now sees particular opportunities for affinity partners in providing low-cost health products (as an alternative to NHS or PMI provision) and we believe that this is where much of its sales and marketing effort will now be focused. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Virgin Money launches protection partnership with Friends Life...again

Virgin Money has announced the re-launch of a protection partnership with Friends Life, which is due to start in January 2014. This follows the launch of a similar partnership with Friends Provident as recently as September 2009. 

More information on the partnership is expected to follow, but cover will be available in-store (at the branches acquired from Northern Rock), online and over the phone. 

Virgin originally launched a protection partnership with Scottish Widows in 2006, which was marketed as "Cancer Cover" but which was criticised by some for its lack of coverage. 

Virgin Money continues to work with BDML for home and motor insurance, UK Insurance for pet insurance and Insure & Go (Mapfre) for travel insurance. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

M&S reappoints RSA for pet insurance

M&S has announced the renewal of its pet insurance partnership with RSA for a further 5 years. 

RSA has displayed a real appetite for pet insurance affinity deals in recent years; as demonstrated by its similar partnerships with John Lewis, Home Retail Group (Argos & Homebase) and Tesco.

M&S continues to partner with AXA for home and travel insurance and works with a Junction-led panel for car insurance. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sainsbury's Bank replaces AXA (and Capita) with Allianz for pet insurance

Sainsbury's Bank has announced a new partnership, set to launch in the autumn, with Allianz for its pet insurance products. The length of the deal has not yet been announced, but Sainsbury's has been active in this market since 1998. 

The decision is likely to come as a blow to AXA which currently partners with Sainsbury's Bank and for Thornside, the pet insurance arm of Capita Insurance Distribution. Since 2010, Thornside has been responsible for the sales, fulfilment and claims handling of the Sainsbury's  pet insurance partnership with AXA.

The partnership is another significant one for Allianz, which has recently secured the Ford motor insurance deal. UKI continues to partner with Sainsbury's Bank for home and motor insurance.    

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Motability renews partnership with RSA...for 5 more years

RSA has renewed its long-running partnership with Motability Operations (the not-for-profit company which manages the Motability car scheme) for 5 more years, running from October 2013. The original partnership was announced in July 1998. 

This is arguably more of a commercial fleet scheme than a traditional "affinity" arrangement, but it does represent one of the UK's largest motor insurance partnerships and covers 600,000 disabled drivers. The Motability scheme is said to account for 6% of all new cars sold in the UK each year. Policies are generally provided on a 3-year basis, but will be re-priced every 6 months. 

The revised deal is on a quota share basis, with RSA retaining 20% of the premium and ceding the remainder to a captive insurer managed by Motability Operations. This is very unusual in an affinity deal, but the scheme had been making substantial losses in recent years and arguably also reflects the particular expertise of the partner.  

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Ford to partner with Allianz - one of the worst kept secrets in the market!

It is understood that Ford has selected Allianz as its UK partner for its branded motor insurance, with effect from November 2013. Following a tender exercise, the rumour has been circulating within the market for a number of months that Royal & Sun Alliance will be replaced by Allianz. 

RSA has held the partnership since 2008; at which time it included the Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands. These have all since been sold by Ford and of these, RSA only now partners with Volvo.

Allianz benefits from being a major pan-European insurer, although it is understood that the new partnership will only cover the UK. In addition, it is already well-established in the UK motor manufacturer affinity sector, with its BMW and Volkswagen partnerships. 

A formal announcement has yet to be made about the new partnership and there are also suggestions that Ford will be using an intermediary to work alongside Allianz in the new arrangement. (Update 2015 - Europa Group provides a sales and administration service for the partnership. ABC and AXA added to the panel for annual car insurance.)  

Monday, 15 July 2013

Renault UK partners with Quindell for accident and claims management

Renault UK and Quindell have signed a new partnership which sees the outsourcer providing a range of accident management services for the car manufacturer across all its brands, for drivers of new and used vehicles.  

The 2 organisations have signed a "multi-year contract"; whereby Quindell will provide first notification of loss (FNOL), credit hire, repair and personal injury elements of the claims service to Renault UK. Quindell has been active in this area in the last 2 years with its acquisitions of Ai Claims and law firm, Silverbeck Rymer. 

Renault is one of many motor manufacturers that have chosen to remove accident and claims management services from their car insurance partners; in this case, Equity Direct Broking. Renault's GAP insurance product is underwritten by Cardif Pinnacle. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sesame Bankhall adds PMI with Aviva and PruHealth

Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG) has enhanced its restricted advice proposition with corporate and individual PMI products in partnership with Aviva and PruHealth.

SBG's restricted advice proposition was launched in 2012 and the organisation believes that PMI could become a significant growth area for advisers within its network. Aviva and PruHealth are among 11 providers supporting the SBG restricted advice proposition.

PMI has traditionally been regarded as a complex partnership product and one that few affinity groups have marketed successfully. 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Tesco Bank launches "young driver" insurance with Insure the Box

Tesco Bank has introduced a new "pay-as-you drive" motor insurance policy for 17-25 year olds. Its new "Tesco Bank Box Insurance" policy uses telematics technology fitted into the car and which enables key behaviours to be monitored and assessed. 

The new policy is administered by Insure the Box, which has already sold over 200,000 policies, and is underwritten by Catlin and Great Lakes Reinsurance. 

The use of telematics is growing rapidly but this is one of the first "affinity branded" partnerships in this market. Interestingly, Tesco Bank has chosen to partner with Insure the Box, rather than with its joint venture insurer partner Ageas, which also backs Ingenie; another significant telematics player in the young-driver market.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Equity and Costco launch SME insurance partnership

Equity Insurance Partnerships (EIP) has announced the launch of a new partnership with Costco Wholesale, to offer van insurance to its core SME customers in the UK. The proposition includes a substitute vehicle as standard and additional covers such as tools and excess protection. 

Marketing of the new partnership will take place through Costco warehouses as well as online and through Costco's member magazine and "coupon book". 

No details have been provided of the length of the partnership at this stage. The van insurance deal with EIP supplements existing Costco Wholesale partnerships with American Express for credit cards and travel insurance and WPA for health and dental plans. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Friends Life partners with Key Retirement Solutions for annuity service

Friends Life has announced a partnership with Key Retirement Solutions, to offer its pension customers, without an adviser, access to a market-wide "open market option" (OMO) service. This will allow customers to shop around for the best annuity rates, taking into account lifestyle and health factors. 

A pilot of the service is expected to launch in the next few months and follows a "thorough process" to select a new partner. The service is available to individual Friends Life customers and and those within corporate schemes run by the insurer, where no adviser exists. 

On the same day as this announcement, workplace pensions provider, Now: Pensions has also said that it will be launching a similar OMO service with Annuity Direct. 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Bupa and AIG's partnership to develop new travel products

Bupa and AIG have announced a partnership to develop a new product range for the travel insurance market. 

Both organisations currently underwrite travel insurance and the new partnership, which is understood to be for a 2 year period, will aim to develop new products for the individual, SME and corporate sectors.

AIG in particular, is an active travel insurance provider for a number of affinity groups and brands including Boots, Flybe, WH Smith and Yorkshire Bank. A small aside is that customers of these brands will not be covered for trips to Cuba because of AIG's US parentage. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Volkswagen's partnership with UK General - a challenge to motor insurers?

UK General has announced a partnership with Volkswagen Financial Services to offer VW Group (including Seat and Skoda) customers its "Ensurance" product. The product provides access to VW Group approved repairers and genuine parts and paint. It is administered by Lawshield UK and underwritten by UK General on behalf of Ageas.  

The product was originally launched in 2011 and underwritten by Mapfre. The original product sold for up to £60 per year, but the new partnership with UK General provides it free of charge to VW Group customers for 3 years. 

Ensurance is one of a number of motor manufacturers' products which aim to provide a single point of contact in the event of a claim or theft. These products sit alongside a traditional motor insurance policy, but remove a degree of control from the motor insurer by directing repairs into the manufacturer's network and handling hire car and accident management provision. 

VW Group continues to work with Allianz for its standard motor insurance policy and Mapfre for GAP insurance. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Argos launches a number of new partnerships

Argos has launched a new partnership with LaSer to provide personal loans to its customers; both online and within its 735 stores. Loans are available from between £3,000 and £15,000 and the partnership offers instant online decisions and flexible payment terms. This complements an existing "Homeowners" (secured) loans partnership with Nemo Personal Finance. 

Earlier this year and with minimal press coverage, Argos also launched a motor insurance partnership with Hastings, through the latter's "Insure" brand. This replaced a partnership with BDML which had not been active for some time. 

In addition, Insure & Go has replaced Chartis as the travel insurance provider for Argos customers, whilst RSA contnues to provide the retailer's pet insurance offering. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

British Gas partners with last!

Over 3 years after announcing that it could become a "Top 10 Household Insurer" by 2011, British Gas has launched a home insurance partnership with AXA Direct & Partnerships. Admittedly that claim was made in a recruitment advert for an Underwriting Director; a post eventually filled by Edward Dutton, formerly the Underwriting Director of AXA Personal Lines. 

Back in 2009, British Gas received authorisation to underwrite both warranty and household business, but at this stage, it has decided to work with an established insurer to provide home insurance to its 4.5 million UK customers. The length of the partnership has not been announced and it is not yet known whether the major aggregators will add the brand to their panels. 

British Gas has provided a range of repair and warranty services to its customers for many years under its "Homecare" brand and home insurance could be seen as a natural brand extension for this and other utility companies. 

All utility companies have access to large customer bases and good quality data, but the issue for British Gas could ultimately be whether its proposition is sufficiently differentiated and whether or not customers feel genuine "affinity" for their supplier of gas and electricity. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Torquil Clark launches IOD Partnership

Leading IFA,Torquil Clark, has launched a partnership with the Institute of Directors to offer a range of protection based services. 

Members can access whole of market protection and critical illness covers, as well as "key-person" insurance and "relevant life insurance"; the last of which allows SMEs to provide a death-in-service benefit to employees and directors. 

The partnership also allows members to take advantage of a complimentary review of their protection, investment and pension needs, with a value of up to £1,500. 

The IOD offers a range of other partnerships including home and PI insurance with Hiscox and health plans with Westfield Health. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Ageas partnership with NewLaw heralds significant legal change

Ageas and NewLaw solicitors have created one of the first alternative business structures (ABS), to allow legal services to be offered to customers making non-fault personal injury claims. It follows approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The development, which is likely to be followed by a number of similar partnerships, had been widely heralded following the changes brought by the Legal Services Act and the Jackson reforms of civil litigation, which included a ban on referral fees in personal injury cases.

The new firm, Ageas Law, started trading on April 8th 2013, and has been set up as a limited liability partnership (LLP). The partnership is scheduled to run for 5 years and follows a detailed and long-term tender process managed by Ageas, involving a number of legal firms. 

The significance of this and other similar deals is important; given that referral fees have traditionally represented a huge income stream for motor insurers and brokers. It is also likely to lead to consolidation amongst specialist PI solicitors; many of which have worked for a range of insurers, brokers and claims management companies in the past. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Foresters extends Lighthouse partnership

Foresters Friendly Society has extended its partnership with national IFA firm, Lighthouse Group. 

Building on an existing relationship in which Lighthouse advisors could offer Foresters' Tax Exempt Savings plans, the partnership has been extended to a full range of products including Child Savings Plans, Share ISAs, Guaranteed Savings Plans and a 50+ Life Plan. 

The significance of the partnership extends beyond the 2 organisations, given that the new products will now be available to many of Lighthouse Group's affinity partners including UNISON, Prospect and USDAW trade unions. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Barclays' SME partnership with Allianz

Barclays has selected Allianz as its partner for a full range of commercial insurance products for its UK customers. 

Within the "long-term" deal (no details currently available), Allianz Commercial will provide a range of tailored packages for different market sectors. The sales, service and claims capability provided by Allianz will be fully branded and operate from the insurer's specialist centre in Lancaster. 

Allianz refers to the partnership as a "substantially different proposition to the bancassurance sector". Allianz also partners with Lloyds TSB for SME insurance; whereas HSBC and Santander work with AXA and RBS partners with UKI under its NIG brand. 

Barclays had previously worked with Aviva as its provider of SME insurance. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

RAC renews motor partnership with Junction

The RAC has announced the extension of its motor insurance partnership with Junction, the affinity arm of BGL Group, for a further 5 years. 

The partnership was originally formed in 2008 and is now estimated to cover over 300,000 policyholders. The 2 organisations claim that future growth of the partnership will rely heavily on technology focused initiatives; not least the use of breakdown and third party data to achieve competitive rates from Junction's panel insurers. 

The RAC has approximately 7 million members in the UK and partners with Heath Lambert for home insurance and ACE for travel insurance. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

LifeSearch partners with Which? Mortgage Advisers

Which? Mortgage Advisers has announced a partnership with LifeSearch, in which it is referring its customers seeking advice on protection products to the specialist IFA. 

LifeSearch has been successful at establishing a number of advice-based partnerships and in 2012, it launched similar services for customers of (see earlier blog dated 24th September 2012) and