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Will AIG give L&G a run for its money?

It seems one of the biggest insurance companies in the world is focusing on the UK protection market.

AIG has recruited former Munich Re head of protection marketing Will Adler to the role of protection product and planning actuary, sparking rumours the insurance giant is focusing on individual protection intermediary market for the first time.

The firm currently has a small presence in the group life insurance market in the UK and offers individual life cover, critical illness and income protection through direct distribution channels but has no presence in the intermediary market.

An AIG spokesperson says: “We want to increase our market share and a quality individual like Will fits in the picture.”

Le Beau Visage managing director Peter Le Beau says: “AIG have always been an opportunistic office in global markets. It looks like they may be assessing the UK protection market but I doubt they would go in without a thorough feasibility study. Perhaps this is why they have brought Will on board.”

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “This would be good news. We need more companies in the market to give it a good kick, what with Standard Life pulling out and Scottish Widows coming off portals.”

In other news, Scottish Re Group is selling off its UK life reinsurance operation to focus on the North American market. The Bermuda-based company, which has been downgraded by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch rating agencies in the past six weeks as a result of its high exposure to the sub-prime market, is also selling off its operation in Asia as well as its wealth management business.

Scottish Re’s UK operation commands an estimated 5 per cent market share and its clients include income protection provider Pioneer. Hannover, SCOR and XL have expressed interest in Scottish Re in the past although experts say an international reinsurer may find the operation attractive because of its established team.

Chief marketing officer, UK and Ireland, David Heeney says: “The current market conditions have had a damaging effect on Scottish Re’s ratings. This makes it very difficult to offer clients the long-term security they require from a reinsurance partner and is inhibiting our plans to grow our business in the UK, Ireland and Asia. We believe a new owner would be able to realise the full potential of these operations making the
acquisition an attractive proposition for all parties, including Scottish Re Group and our clients.”

And lastly, Unum launched its new dual benefit group income protection product this week. The product aims to help businesses cope with staff being off work due to illness by paying income benefits to both the employee and employer.

The employer’s monthly benefit is designed to help businesses finance temporary replacement staff or carry out adjustments to help disabled employees return to the workplace.

The product offers four and eight week deferred periods, as Unum found most smaller companies considered long-term absence as anything over two weeks, as well as the standard 13 and 26 week periods.

Unum head of commercial marketing Wojciech Dochan says: “We feel confident there is a real market for this product. The costs and risks to a business of coping with a long-term absence can be significant and dual benefit will help them mitigate these risks and improve business continuity.”

Master Adviser senior partner Roy McLoughlin says: “This product will be really handy as it is effectively group income protection with key person bolted on.”


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