Zurich has announced that it is planning to return to the direct insurance market in the UK later this year in a strategic partnership with its subsidiary Endsleigh.
The global insurer's UK general insurance business will offer motor and home insurance on aggregators under the Zurich brand, with Endsleigh carrying out sales, servicing and premium collections.
The changes will mean some operational changes affecting staffing levels which Zurich said would support the partnership with Endsleigh and better align its personal lines workforce with current volumes and business demands.
The areas affected will be customer services, claims, finance and offshore teams and there will be an overall reduction of 243 roles including 149 redundancies, the majority of which will be in Cardiff.
There will also be a reduction of 59 roles as a result of contracts expiring and natural turnover of employees and a reduction of 78 full-time roles in Bangalore and Pune, affecting people working on personal lines direct service calls and claims.
However 43 new roles are being created within the property claims and finance operations teams in Whiteley, Hampshire.
Minimising the impact
Personal lines director Karl Bedlow said: "We do recognise that these changes mean difficult messages for some of our employees, and we are committed to minimising the impact on people by reducing job numbers through redeployment, natural turnover and voluntary measures wherever possible.
"However we have to make sure that we can flexibly adapt our operational model and processes to meet constantly changing market conditions, and that also means having the right number of people to deliver our products and services according to the level of demand.
"We will continue to evolve our UK personal lines business to ensure it remains competitive, efficient and profitable."
The insurer claimed the move was the latest step in the evolution of Zurich's UK general insurance business under CEO Steve Lewis, and was aligned to its restructure earlier this year which created three market-facing units: personal lines, commercial broker, and Zurich municipal.
Mr Bedlow said: "This will be a great partnership, combining Zurich's proven expertise in underwriting, claims and pricing with Endsleigh's systems and service excellence, giving us increased flexibility to adapt to a changing market.
"The new low-cost model recognises the reality of an aggregator-dominated direct personal lines market in the UK."
He continued: "This is an important move for our business - but it's important to stress that our total commitment to the broker market and to brokers themselves remains a fundamental priority.
"We are already active in the personal lines market and will remain so, and our commitment to personal lines brokers won't be affected by this development."
Endsleigh's managing director Ian Passmore added: "We're delighted to be entering this new partnership with Zurich. Both businesses will benefit from an arrangement which makes the most of all our combined strengths."
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