Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Virgin replaces BDML with Ageas

Virgin Money has selected Ageas as its new home and motor insurance partner and announced that the two organisations will be developing a range of products during 2015. Ageas will underwrite the household products and will develop a panel of insurers for Virgin Money's motor product. Ageas will be providing the sales, servicing and claims capabilities for the new partnership. 

Although the new deals marks the loss of a major "affinity brand" for BDML, it is understood that the volume of Virgin Money insurance customers has never been significant and that the partnership does not entail the transfer of an existing book to Ageas. 

Nevertheless, Virgin Money does have a wide range of channels including "stores" and "lounges", although at present, this branch network does not offer mortgage advice, or presumably, an obvious "point of sale" household insurance opportunity.  

Virgin Money continues to work with Insure & Go for its travel insurance and UK Insurance for pet insurance. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Nationwide remains with LV= for 3 more years

Nationwide and LV= have announced the extension of their motor insurance partnership for a further 3 years. The insurer has underwritten the building society's car insurance product on an exclusive basis since 2008. 

LV= has suggested the shared mutual status of the 2 organisations as an important factor in the extension, but it is perhaps worth noting that Nationwide continues to work with UK Insurance for the much larger household insurance partnership and with Legal & General for life cover. 

LV= also provides the motor breakdown cover for Nationwide through its Britannia Rescue brand.   

Ageas extends Tesco Bank partnership for 7 more years

Ageas UK and Tesco Bank have extended their home and motor partnership for a further 7 years. The partnership was established in 2009 with the creation of Tesco Underwriting (TU); 50.1% owned by Ageas and 49.9% owned by Tesco Bank. 

The partnership extension is an impressive result for Ageas and it is claimed that TU now underwrites 1.2 million customers and is responsible for £440 million in Gross Written Premium. This makes it one of the UK's most significant affinity partnerships. However, as recently as 2011, TU was said to be insuring 1.5 million customers and accounted for GWP of £655 million. 

Some of this decline may result from Tesco Bank working with a wider range of insurers in the last couple of years. The home insurance panel is comprised of TU, Towergate, AXA, RSA and Legal & General; the last of these added as recently as November 2014. The motor insurance panel is comprised of TU, Sabre, Covea, Chaucer and Aviva.

Outside of the TU joint venture, Tesco Bank partners with Ageas for travel insurance, RSA for pet insurance and Aviva for life cover. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tesco Bank partners with AXA Assistance for home emergency

Tesco Bank has selected AXA Assistance to provide the claims service for its home emergency cover. This will be provided through AXA Assistance's network of independent contractors. 

AXA Assistance has secured the partnership following a tender exercise and has replaced Homeserve as the claims handler. Tesco Bank's home emergency cover continues to be underwritten by Inter Partner Assistance S.A. (IPA), which is itself part of the AXA Assistance Group. 

Home emergency cover is generally sold as an add-on to Tesco Bank's home insurance product, which is underwritten by a panel of insurers including Tesco Underwriting (Ageas), RSA, Towergate and AXA. 

Tesco Bank works with a panel of insurers for car insurance and partners with Ageas for travel insurance and RSA for pet insurance. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Lloyds Banking Group discards household panel

Lloyds Bank General Insurance has become the sole underwriter of household insurance for the major brands within the Lloyds Banking Group - Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland - and their three million policyholders. 

It is understood that the bank's insurer was already the dominant player in what is probably the UK's largest household insurance "affinity", but it does mark a significant potential loss of "partnerships' business" for major insurers including RSA, Allianz and Legal & General. 

The bank has portrayed the switch from a panel as a means of ensuring "consistency of quality and service" for customers.  

The three brands continue to partner with Junction (and its panel) for motor insurance. For travel insurance, Lloyds Bank works with AXA and Halifax partners with Cigna. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

NatWest partners with Brightside for van insurance

NatWest has launched a new van insurance partnership with insurance broking group, Brightside. This appears to follow on from Brightside's earlier success in winning the tender for Direct Line Group's (DLG) van insurance business earlier in 2014. 

This led to a van insurance partnership with Churchill being launched in March 2014. It is worth noting that whereas the Churchill deal is underwritten by UK Insurance and administered by Brightside, the NatWest partnership uses the extended Brightside panel. 

It is understood that the NatWest product will be marketed through a number of channels, including in-branch and ultimately on the aggregators. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Debenhams to launch new motor partnership with Southern Rock

Recent trade press coverage (Insurance Times - 15/08/14) has highlighted that Debenhams has selected Gibraltar insurer, Southern Rock, to replace Brightside as its motor insurance partner after two years with the broker. 

Much of the coverage has focused on the ongoing legal dispute between Southern Rock and Brightside, of which the insurer's Chief Executive, Arron Banks, was a co-founder. However, it is not known how successful Debenhams has been in marketing motor insurance, but one might question whether it has an obvious "brand stretch" with this product. 

The new partnership is expected to commence in December and Southern Rock's sister company, Eldon Insurance Services, will provide the operational support. 

Debenhams has other insurance partnerships with Heath Lambert (home), Insure & Go (travel), UK General (wedding), BDML (pet) and theidol.com (life). 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Royal London partners with Just Retirement for annuities

Royal London, the UK's largest mutual life and pensions company, has launched a new annuity service for its 4 million non-advised customers. 

Much of the press comment has been focused upon the scrapping of Royal London's "single-tie" annuity partnership with the Prudential, but given the turmoil within the pensions market as a result of the last Budget, it may be significant that Royal London is continuing to support the demand for annuities from many customers. 

The new service has been developed in partnership with Just Retirement's subsidiary, TOMAS (The Open Market Annuity Service), which represents 10 providers, comprising the main annuity players in the open market.  

Many annuity providers and partnerships have come under significant pressure following the 2014 Budget changes, and this new partnership may also reflect how business models are having to adapt. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Gallagher secures partnership with Parkinson's UK

Arthur J. Gallagher's partnership brand, Unique Insurance, has announced a new partnership with the charity Parkinson's UK. The 3 year partnership covers home, motor and travel insurance and caters for people suffering from the condition as well as their families, friends and carers. 

The new partnership is designed to provide medical screening at the point of quotation and Gallagher's has highlighted that a third of commission earned will be paid to the charity. 

Building on the strong heritage of the charity insurance team from Heath Lambert, Gallagher has a pre-eminent position in the disability and medical charity sector and now has partnerships with 39 charities including Diabetes UK, Asthma UK and the Stroke Association. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Asda Money announces home insurance partnership with Hood Group

Asda Money has launched a fully branded home insurance proposition with Hood Group, which will be underwritten by RSA. It is understood that the appointment followed a tender process and that the new products will shortly be available on the major aggregators.  

Asda has regularly changed its insurer partners, with Aviva, BDML and Brightside (see July 6th 2012 blog entry for details) each providing home insurance with the supermarket in the last 10 years. However, it is understood that this deal with Hood Group has been signed for 3 years. 

Asda continues to work with Brightside for van and car insurance, Ace for travel insurance, BDML / Zenith for pet insurance and Vast Visibility for motor cycle and caravan insurance. Away from general insurance, Asda partners with LifeSearch for life assurance, LV= for over 50's life cover and Creation for its credit card. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

"New" building society launches a range of partnerships

The Family Building Society has launched a range of mortgage and savings products this week, as well as a large number of partnerships with a range of established and new providers. The society has been heralded as the first "new" building society for over 30 years, but is actually a division of National Counties Building Society.

The Society has partnered with Ageas Insurance for its home insurance offering; providing the insurer with its first significant household partnership with a mortgage lender. (This will be administered  by its UKAIS division and will be on a panel basis.) Legal & General has been selected as the partner for life and critical illness cover and Ingenie will provide "young driver" motor insurance. 

Family has also launched a number of partnerships under the "Later Life Planning" banner and although some cover established partnership services such as Equity Release (Key Retirement Solutions), IHT Planning (Chase de Vere) and Will Writing (Kings Court Trust), others are more noteworthy. 

There are partnerships in less familiar areas, and these include Lasting Power of Attorney and Probate (Kings Court Trust), Long Term Care Planning (Chase de Vere) and Managed Property Services (Bridgefast Property Services).

Other Family partnerships include a Pre-paid Payment Card (APS) and a University Savings Plan (Shepherds Friendly). 

Friday, 6 June 2014

TSB signs protection partnership with Legal & General

TSB Bank has announced a new partnership with Legal & General to distribute a range of the insurer's protection products. The 5 year partnership takes effect in July 2014 and covers term, critical illness, income protection and whole of life products. 

The partnership covers a range of distribution channels and where appropriate, TSB customers will be referred to dedicated L&G advisors. 

The change comes in advance of the bank's formal split from Lloyds Banking Group and at this stage, TSB Bank's home insurance remains with Lloyds Bank General Insurance. 

Lloyds Bank protection products contnue to be provided by group subsidiary, Scottish Widows.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

John Lewis and Ageas extend partnership by 5 years

John Lewis has announced the extension of its car insurance partnership with Ageas for a further 5 years. The partnership originally commenced in 2008 and was extended to include travel insurance in 2012. 

The sales and servicing for the partnership will continue at Ageas Insurance Solutions in Stoke-on-Trent and Ageas will remain as the lead insurer on the car insurance panel. In addition to distribution through John Lewis channels, the product will continue to be marketed through aggregators. This is typical of strong brands such as John Lewis, but arguably can cause problems for insurers as "non-core" customers are added.

John Lewis partners with RSA for its home, pet, wedding and events insurance, Sterling Insurance for "specialist" household covers and Friends Life for life assurance. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Post Office signs up for 5 more years with Junction

The Post Office has extended its home, motor and van insurance partnership with Junction, the affinity business of Budget Group, for a further 5 years. Junction has been providing home and motor insurance to Post office customers since 2004 and added van insurance in 2007. 

This is a notable long-term partnership between the two organisations, which takes advantage of branch, phone and Internet channels. Post Office insurance products also feature heavily on the aggregator sites which, given that it will be competing directly against other Junction and BGL offers, highlights the brand's impressive reach. 

The Post Office continues to partner with AXA for pet and travel insurance, Devitts for motor cycle insurance and Aviva for life covers. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Times launches partnership with Bestinvest

The Times and Sunday Times newspapers have launched an "execution only" and financial advice service with Bestinvest. TheTimes Wealth Management Service is essentially a white-labelled version of the Bestinvest offering and is subject to the same charges. 

The partnership covers a range of services:

  • A non-advised online service
  • Personal advice from a Bestinvest advisor
  • Model portfolios run on a discretionary basis
  • A full wealth planning service including advice on pensions and IHT

The broadsheet newspapers have been regarded as a strong channel to provide financial advice services; in part reflecting the demise of advice through the high street banks. 

The Telegraph has been offering similar services for some time and works with St James's Place for Wealth Management and Skipton Financial Services (SFS) for its Investment Advisory Service, Fund Supermarket and IHT advice.  

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

L&G re-enters the motor market with Junction

Legal & General has announced its return to the motor insurance market, following its partnership with Junction, the affinity arm of BGL Group. This time it will operate as a distributor rather than an underwriter and it will be backed by a panel of 14 motor insurers. 

L&G has ambitions to achieve 100,000 policyholders within 3 years, which it is hoping to achieve partly through direct sales (it has over 7 million customers of its own), but more probably through price comparison websites. 

It has spoken of the "development of some exciting car insurance propositions", but it will be interesting to see how effectively these can be delivered within a panel model and in such a price-competitive market.  

L&G announced its intention to re-enter the motor market in March 2013. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Lloyds Bank announces SME partnership with Gallagher

Lloyds Bank has announced a partnership with Arthur J Gallagher to provide business insurance solutions to its 1.1 million SME customers. The exclusive 5-year partnership (which actually commenced at the end of December 2013), covers a range of insurance covers and aims to increase the Bank's "underwriting footprint" by use of the broker's panel of specialist SME insurers.

The service will be available in-branch as well as over the phone and online and has been described as a "fully advised business insurance offering". The main casualty of the new partnership is Allianz which had held the Lloyds Bank business since November 2009. 

Allianz continues to partner with Barclays for its SME customers, AXA with HSBC and Santander, and UKI (NIG) works with RBS. 

The shift to a "broked" solution by Lloyds Bank and the growing appetite of many brokers for commercial partnerships, suggests that the other banks may also look beyond single insurer deals in future renewals.   

Monday, 10 February 2014

P&O Ferries selects Cigna as travel insurance partner

P&O Ferries has appointed Cigna Insurance Services as its travel insurance partner. The partnership offers single trip and annual covers and reportedly extends to elderly passengers and those with pre-existing medical conditions. 

P&O Ferries will act as an IAR (Introducer Appointed Representative) of Cigna, which is now established as a top 5 travel insurer within the UK. Cigna also provides affinity and white label travel insurance for a number of significant partners including Sainsbury's Bank, Saga, Barclays and Halifax. 

One slight surprise is that the partnership was launched in November 2013, but has only recently been reported in the trade press. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Junction claims 2 million affinity customers

This week saw the announcement by Junction, the partnerships and affinity business of BGL Group, that it was now responsible for the insurance of over 2 million customers; an increase of 1 million since 2007.  

The result is an impressive one and Junction now manages partnerships with a wide range of household brands including Marks & Spencer, Post Office, Lloyds Bank, HSBC and the RAC.

The recent press release mentioned a 2013 "affinity deal" that Junction had done with Zenith Insurance, which looks more like third party insurance administration than a partnership, but it does at least show the extensive capabilities within the group. 

It also begs an interesting question about which affinity insurance provider is now the largest in terms of premium income and policyholders. Junction is almost certainly one of the top 3, albeit as an intermediary, but it would be interesting to see how these numbers compare with Aviva and Ageas; both of which hold some of the largest UK affinity partnerships (even excluding the business they underwrite through Junction). 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

West Brom partners with Towergate for financial advice

West Bromwich Building Society has launched a partnership with Towergate Financial, to provide a financial advice service in its 37 branches. The service will provide whole of market advice in pensions, protection and investmenets and is being managed by 20 former West Brom staff who will be employed by Towergate. 

West Brom previously worked with AXA, but the insurer withdrew from offering an advice service in Summer 2013. 

Towergate Financial has been active in working with small and medium sized building societies and, using a variety of models, it already has partnerships with the Loughborough, Melton Mowbray, Nottingham, Saffron and Scottish Building Societies. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Sun Life Direct renews partnership with Golden Charter

Sun Life Direct has appointed Golden Charter as the sole provider of funeral plans for its term life and over 50s life assurance policyholders, following a recent tender. 

The two organisations have worked together for 4 years, but previously Golden Charter was one of a number of providers. It has been suggested that following this deal, Golden Charter will have a market share of over half of the UK pre-paid funeral market. 

Partnerships are a major feature of the pre-paid funeral market, with Dignity, Co-Op Funeralcare and Golden Leaves actively involved. 

Golden Charter, for example, also works with a number of partners including Saga, Friends Life, CUNA Mutual and Scottish Friendly. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Affinion selects AmTrust as its underwriting partner until 2020

The lifestyle and loyalty benefits provider, Affinion International, has announced that Am Trust Europe has been selected as its underwriting partner until 2020. Affinion previously worked with Allianz. 

Affinion International provides a range of products and services to its partners, including mobile phone and gadget insurance, motor breakdown and warranty. Affinion has highlighted that the change of underwriter will allow it to exercise more control of claims handling, particularly with its mobile phone insurance product.  

Affinion is a significant player in administering loyalty programmes throughout Europe and has relationships with among others, Aviva, Santander, Nat West and American Express. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Ageas partnership with Vauxhall extends to vans

Ageas has announced that its partnership with motor manufacturer Vauxhall has been extended to include Van Insurance. The two organisations originally signed a 5-year partnership in late 2011, which covered private motor insurance for the Vauxhall and Chevrolet brands. 

All policies are underwritten by Ageas Insurance Limited and are administered through Ageas Insurance Solutions, based in Stoke-on-Trent. The new arrangements include a free 5-day "driveaway" policy for Vauxhall van customers, buying through Vauxhall dealers. 

The Ageas partnership with Vauxhall is widely considered to have worked well since 2011 and this extension arguably leaves the insurer well-placed for any future renewal or tender process for the wider Vauxhall account.