Axa boss visits Ipswich

THE UK boss of insurance giant Axa confirmed they were expecting to pay out around £80million on the June floods in the north of England, but had yet to find out the true cost of the latest deluges as he visited the firm's Ipswich offices yesterday .

THE UK boss of insurance giant Axa confirmed they were expecting to pay out around £80million on the June floods in the north of England, but had yet to find out the true cost of the latest deluges as he visited the firm's Ipswich offices yesterday .

Nicolas Moreau, who became chief executive of Axa's UK and Ireland operation about a year ago, expressed sympathy with the victims of the floods which hit central and southern England this week, describing them as “brutal”.

He was on his first visit to the company's huge 200,000sq ft Ipswich office complex, which is home to a 1600-strong workforce. Some of these are still in temporary office accommodation while a £10million makeover of the second of two of its flagship buildings in the town, started last March, is completed.

Mr Moreau was there to meet with the teams and six or seven managers of the different insurance businesses housed within the complex, and declared himself “very impressed” with what he had encountered.


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He also underlined the company's commitment to the town.

“We have been in the region since the 1960s. We are just investing quite a lot of money to refurbish the building and this site is one of our main sites,” he said. “There's absolutely no plan to change that.”

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He expected the site to follow the growth of the business, he said.

The Ipswich offices deal with general insurance and with corporate partners, such as high street chains, who offer insurance packages through Axa.

“Axa Insurance is doing very well. It's very busy right now with the floods,” said Mr Moreau.

Although there were large payouts to be made, he said: “I think we are there for that.”

“We are doing some advanced payment to the people who need it. So far, our priority is to give people temporary homes,” he said. “Some of them won't be able to go home for a year.”

They were still taking calls from policyholders, he said, but was philosophical about the costs they would have to bear.

“It's a fact of life it has been raining this year. We are here to protect people,” he said.

“I think our priority is really to find ways of providing security to people right now.”

They had yet to find out the cost of the latest floods, he said.

“One of the difficulties is this weekend we are expecting some rain again,” he said.

He praised the Ipswich team as “very engaged”.

“They are very willing to deliver good service to their clients and they are willing to grow,” he said.

“As a chief executive I have got many areas I'm trying to concentrate on. I think the first one is the people and the customer.”

The company as a whole needed to have a culture which was customer-centric, he said.

“Without our customers we will not achieve our financial targets,” he said.

“We need to be clear when we are settling claims. Often, the issue with customers is there a big discrepancy between what they believe they have bought and what they have really bought.”

Sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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