By Robert Harris

AGRICULTURAL insurance specialist FarmWeb has teamed up with a new partner in a move which it believes will double its market share within four years.

FarmWeb trades through a network of independent agricultural brokers and claims to be Britains second most popular farm insurer.

It has joined forces with NIG, part of the Churchill Group.

“With NIG, we will continue to develop and deliver a product range tailored specifically for farmers,” says FarmWeb chief executive Elaine Pyke.

“Core agricultural business is changing. And we have to move with it.”

Particular attention is being paid to diversification. David Cheeseman, commercial division assistant manager at NIG, expects to attract 45m of business from farmers by the end of 2005.

He believes there are major gains to be made in the sector, despite the dominance of the NFU, which has about a 65% share.

But cheaper policies are not on the agenda. Indeed the market is set to harden next year, with some companies quoting a 25% rise in premiums, says Mrs Pyke.

“We are not out to undercut the market – no-one wins in the long run. But we shall be competitive,” she adds.