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MICROSOFT MOVING TO AON

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REDMOND, Wash.-J&H Marsh & McLennan Inc. has lost most of the retail insurance brokerage business of computer software giant Microsoft Corp. to Aon Group Inc.

Microsoft's move rends a 13-year relationship that the 22-year-old company originally established with the former Johnson & Higgins. J&H was acquired by Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. earlier this year.

Aon retail unit Aon Risk Services Inc. of Washington in Seattle will take over placing Microsoft's property and casualty coverages. Aon Risk Services Vp Robin Magnotti is Microsoft's account executive.

J&H Marsh & McLennan, the world's largest retail broker, will continue to handle some transactional services and a few other lines of coverage for Microsoft, said Scott K. Lange, director of risk management for the Redmond, Wash.-based company.

J&H Marsh & McLennan also has lost Vp Roger Van Der Vliet to Aon Risk Services. Mr. Van Der Vliet has been intimately involved with the Microsoft account since he picked it up for J&H in 1984. He has been Microsoft's account manager twice during that period. Mr. Van Der Vliet, now a senior vp in Aon Risk Service's Global Broking Group in Seattle, said he will remain involved in servicing the account.

Mr. Lange would say only that he moved Microsoft's business to Aon because "basically, it's time for a change."

Mr. Lange, though, recently has expressed concerns about developments at J&H Marsh & McLennan since J&H was acquired.

For example, Mr. Lange was concerned about how J&H's departure from the UNISON correspondent broker network would affect Microsoft's overseas affiliates (BI, Oct. 6). J&H, UNISON's largest member, pulled out of the network after the broker was acquired.

Mr. Lange also raised questions about J&H Marsh & McLennan's decision to direct middle-market property/casualty business written by Chubb Corp. into regional centers instead of placing that business through the broker's local offices. The centers may be an example of how large brokers may try to control the market, he said (BI, Oct. 13).

None of the Microsoft coverage that Chubb writes was moved to a regional center, according to Mr. Van Der Vliet.

However, J&H last year moved about 40% of Microsoft's business from the broker's Seattle office to its San Jose, Calif., office. The broker reasoned that because the San Jose office is located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, the office could better service that portion of Microsoft's account, Mr. Van Der Vliet said.

He said Aon had contacted him and that he decided to move to the world's second-largest retail broker before Microsoft decided to change brokers.