Eureko buys Irish arm of Touchline Insurance


IN a move to expand its direct sales operation, Eureko Ireland has acquired the Irish operations of Touchline Insurance from French company, GAN. The consideration has not been disclosed, but is likely to be in the region of £700,000.

Eureko already has a significant presence in the direct insurance market through Celtic Direct and intends eventually to integrate the operations of Touchline and its existing subsidiary. Touchline established by GAN in Ireland in 1995 will remain in Dublin for some months until a review of its operation are completed, according to Eureko Ireland's managing director, Mr Adrian Hegarty. But eventually the plan is to combine the operations in Celtic's headquarters in Galway.

The combined business of Celt and Touchline will be one of thief largest in the direct insurance market, with a combined premium income of £32 million last year, around 10 per cent of the private motor insurance market.

The businesses will continue to trade under their separate names for the moment. Touchline is strongest in the Dublin market, where it has a base of 13,000 customers, of which 90 per cent are motor insurance.

Cover and benefits to Touchline's customers under existing policies will not be affected.

Touchline's strength in Dublin was attractive to Celtic Direct, according to Mr Hegarty, as its business is strongest in other parts of the State, particularly in the West.

Touchline has 26 employees and Mr Hegarty says that while there can, be no guarantees about future job numbers, Eureko will do its best to accommodate as many as possible in the merged operations or in its Friends Provident life assurance, subsidiary.

Celtic currently has 79,000 policies in force, approximately 60 per cent of which are motor policies with the rest being household and commercial insurance. Total premium income last year was £25.7 million and the company employs 130 people.

The takeover of Touchline is the fourth acquisition by Eureko since its first entered the Irish market with the purchase of Celtic and NM Life in 1993. Friends Provident was acquired in 1994. Eureko says it has invested a total of £75 million in, acquisitions and developments of its Irish operations. Its parent is the pan European Eureko group Europe's seventh largest insurance grouping operating in 10 European, countries, as well as US and Canada.