Kevin O'Higgins Solicitors

Aviva closes doors on branch network

Wednesday, 8 May, 2013
The Irish Times
by Fiona Reddan

Aviva has completed the closure of its branch network Aviva Direct in Ireland, following the transfer of its life and pensions customers to a group of brokers.

The 33,000 life and pensions customers of Aviva Direct have received notification that their business is to be transferred either to a broker of their own choice, or to a panel of 14 brokers. The outstanding policies will still be with Aviva, but the appointed brokers will represent them in the future, given that Aviva is no longer in a position to provide financial advice.

According to a spokeswoman for Aviva, the panel of brokers cover the locations of the now-closed branches and were chosen for “their capacity to serve our customers”.

The move follows the announcement last year that Aviva was to close its 26 branches across Ireland. Last October, the insurer’s general insurance business transferred to OneDirect, and the transfer of its life and pensions business to the representation of brokers completes the process.

According to the spokeswoman, the move to a broker network will not lead to additional charges or an increase in charges for customers, and the terms and conditions of policies remain unchanged.

Meanwhile EBS Building Society, a subsidiary of AIB, is also in the process of completing the closure of its 14 branches. It announced last January that it would cut its workforce by 200 by franchising out these branches, and according to a spokeswoman for the building society, this process is on track to be completed by the end of July. The move will see two existing Dublin branches - at Coolock and Beacon Court, Sandyford - close, with the others moving to a “tied agent” model.

EBS previously had 68 offices around the country that were run as franchises under this model, which means that the agent responsible for running the office is not employed by EBS, and takes on the costs associated with running an operation, such as staff, rent and lighting. In return, they earn a commission from EBS on the products they sell on behalf of the building society.

Following the current restructuring, EBS will have 76 such franchises, as in addition to the closure of two branches, there will be consolidation among some other offices. According to the spokeswoman, in general the incumbent managers of the branches have taken on the role of tied agent and will run these former branches on this basis.