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Hundreds of staff to be let go at Liberty Insurance

Published 25/06/2015

Workers in Liberty Insurance are being told this morning that 270 of them are to be laid off.
Workers in Liberty Insurance are being told this morning that 270 of them are to be laid off.

Liberty Insurance which employs 230 people in an Enniskillen call centre plans to lay off hundreds of staff today.

The US-owned group is closing its UK retail arm, which is serviced from Ireland laying off 270 workers.

The former Quinn Insurance group has 1,000 staff spread between Co Fermanagh and Blanchardstown in Dublin, Cavan.

The company today informed employees that it is commencing a process that will seek 250 voluntary led redundancies in the Republic of Ireland and 20 in Northern Ireland. 

 It is anticipated the redundancies will take effect over the next 18 months.

Liberty plans to outsource the Co Fermanagh call centre, which is based in Enniskillen. Details of these plans will be announced once a preferred partner is agreed and contracts finalised.

The announcement does not affect the operations of Newtownards based Hughes Insurance Services Limited in Northern Ireland or of any other Liberty Mutual Insurance subsidiaries operating in Great Britain.

President, Liberty International Luis Bonell said: “Liberty Mutual remains fully committed to building a successful business in Ireland.  In recent years, we have purchased the remaining minority stake in Liberty Insurance, announced the acquisition of Hughes Insurance and have continued to invest and create jobs in our Liberty IT division in both Dublin and Belfast.  In the coming years, we will utilize Liberty’s global expertise and resources to support our businesses in Ireland to enable their development into leading players in their respective markets.”

Chief Executive, Liberty Insurance Tom McIlduff  said: “We have achieved a lot in our first few years in Ireland, having established a strong brand and grown our distribution network.  However, the market is challenging and we have been loss making with an uncompetitive cost base. Withdrawing from the Great Britain market, focusing on Ireland and streamlining our operating model will enable us to strengthen our long term competitive position in Ireland in order to service our customers and brokers better.

“The plans we are announcing today reflect our commitment to retaining a contact centre at Enniskillen. We are examining options to transfer it to a third party operator which would preserve roles and potentially lead to future growth opportunities.”

Following today’s employee briefings, management, employees and the employee representative body will work together during a consultation period which will last for 30 days.

It denied that the layoffs are due to under-reserving on the motor side of its business in Ireland. Most motor insurers in the market are losing money, and have been hiking premiums.

The latest official figures show motor premiums rose by 16pc in the last year.

Liberty bought the old Quinn Insurance business four years ago, and a year later bought the British retail business from the administrators of the Quinn Group. But UK insurance division has been loss making, a spokesman for Liberty said.

Liberty is a huge US mutually-owned insurance group based in Boston.

It comes after rival RSA was said by its unions to be making 200 people redundant.

And domestically owned FBD has had a number of profit warnings.

Source Irish Independent

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