AROUND 140 jobs are at risk of the axe at Dorset-based insurance company LV=.

The business – Britain’s biggest friendly society – says the cuts are necessary as it improves its claims handling processes.

It says the jobs would go from its Dorset, Ipswich and Leeds offices, and that it will try to “keep unwanted redundancies to an absolute minimum”.

LV= is one of Dorset’s famous names, employing around 2,000 people in its three buildings in the County Gates area of Westbourne.

A statement from Martin Milliner, claims director at LV= General Insurance, said: “The motor insurance industry is changing fast and customer expectations are increasing.

“To make sure our customers stay at the heart of what we do and that we keep pace with our competitors, we need to adapt and improve our claims handling processes, so we’re proposing to make some changes.

“As a result of these proposals, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to put the people who work in certain teams at risk. These changes will affect around 140 people, less than 10 per cent of the overall claims team, but we will be able to offer the vast majority of those affected other opportunities in our business and keep unwanted redundancies to an absolute minimum.

“The people affected work in our Bournemouth, Ipswich and Leeds offices. These sorts of decisions are never easy to make and we’ll be doing everything we can to give our people all the support they need.”

LV= reduced staff numbers by around 400 in 2017, although it said redundancies had been kept to a minimum. It made a pre-tax profit of £122million that year, after a £49m loss the year before, and reduced operating costs by four per cent.

Last year, the insurer took a hit from the “Beast from the East”, the cold weather at the start of March, which cost it £17m in claims. But it said it had made “steady progress” overall.

LV= commercial insurance products are being transferred to the German insurance giant Allianz under a strategic partnership, while Allianz’s home and motor policies are being transferred to a joint venture.