Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

Quinn planned major UK growth just before expansion ban placed

Sean Quinn, founder of Quinn Insurance Ltd
Sean Quinn, founder of Quinn Insurance Ltd
Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

QUINN Insurance wrote to brokers outlining plans to "significantly" grow its UK business just seven days before the insurance group was banned from writing any new business outside the Republic of Ireland.

Details of the letter emerge as the Financial Regulator continues to examine plans that could see Quinn's UK and Northern Ireland businesses resume issuing new policies as early as this week.

New business and renewals in the North and UK were halted on March 30 when Quinn Insurance went into provisional administration after the Regulator raised concerns about the insurer's solvency and management.

Quinn staff have argued that the UK and Northern Ireland business should be immediately re-opened to protect 700 Enniskillen jobs, while the Quinn Group has publicly rejected the Regulator's claim that the UK and Northern Ireland business was "unprofitable".

A letter sent by Quinn Insurance commercial director Richard Stafford to UK brokers on March 25 shows the extent of the Cavan insurer's very recent hopes for the UK market and the presence it has already built up there.

In the letter, Mr Stafford stresses how Quinn Insurance has "successfully developed and grown" its commercial book in the UK, having "diversified substantially" from its initial focus on construction to a range that covers "almost all industries".

Mr Stafford's commentary of the business's development also confirms that Quinn is now the fourth largest provider of professional indemnity for UK solicitors, despite having traded in the UK market for just six years.

The commercial boss went on to detail a strategy of reducing the number of brokers it dealt with so Quinn could "provide enhanced services, support and a competitive edge to those brokers who truly embrace the partnership model with Quinn Insurance".

"We have significant growth plans for our commercial book in the UK and feel there are many opportunities to exploit given the competitive premiums we can offer due to our efficient claims model and lower cost base when compared with our competitors," Mr Stafford stressed.

The letter also detailed the recent relocation of Sean Quinn (Junior) to Quinn Insurance's London office, where he was placed to "support business development initiatives".

A day before the letter was inked, the Financial Regulator had learned of €1.2bn worth of guarantees given by Quinn Insurance subsidiaries, triggering the company's placement into provisional administration.

As part of his submission to the High Court, the Regulator said the UK and Northern Ireland business had made underwriting losses of €44.4m last year and should cease renewing policies or writing new business.

Court documents also show that the UK and Northern Ireland business generated premiums of €447m last year, about 42pc of the total premiums generated by the insurance business.

  • Meanwhile, Talbot Hughes McKillop LLP (THM) has been engaged by Quinn Group to provide financial restructuring services to the company. In addition, THM partner Murdoch McKillop has been appointed as an interim executive director of Quinn Group Ltd.

The chief executive of Quinn Group, Liam McCaffrey, said: "Mr McKillop's role will be to assist the Board and the executive management team to successfully work through the Group's current issues."

and to ensure that executive management are not excessively diverted from the vitally important job of running our manufacturing business."

Irish Independent

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