He is to succeed Allan Bridgewater as group chief executive at the end of 1997. Norwich said Mr Harvey had been appointed deputy group chief executive in the meantime, in addition to his existing responsibility.
"The appointment clarifies the question of succession in advance of Norwich Union's planned flotation," the company said.
Mr Harvey, 46, joined Norwich Union in 1992 as head of its New Zealand operation after running Sun Alliance's life insurance business there. He returned to the UK in 1993, became the group's actuary in 1994 and joined the main board in 1995.
The next stage in the Norwich flotation is scheduled for the spring when there is to be an extraordinary general meeting. A circular giving details of the flotation will be sent out before the extraordinary general meeting to the policyholders who currently own the group.