Biba chairman Simon Bolam's (pictured right) opening address to conference had an immediate impact, with Norwich Union promising to look again at its broker channel motor product to help reduce the price differential with its direct arms.
Bolam ducked naming NU when he referred to the recent angry debate in Insurance Times over dual pricing, but his example left no doubt that he was singling out the insurer. He mentioned that the NU's defence was that 80% of premium differences were within 20% – a figure he described as acceptable – with the rest not comparing like with like.
But he said NU's claim that the broker channel product included European Breakdown and Accident Assistance cover, which costs £56 extra when buying direct, meant brokers could not compete in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland where few drivers wanted the cover as they never took their cars to the continent.
NU's business development director Ken Wallace, there during Bolam's speech, has confirmed to Insurance Times that NU will look at removing the compulsory extra covers from the broker channel product to help brokers compete on a level playing field.
Wallace was unable to confirm how or when the change would be made, but promised NU would go back to the drawing board soon after the Biba conference closed.
Biba chief executive Mike Williams reacted by saying: "That is great news. It shows a solid achievement. The power of the press is astonishing." He pointed out that Bolam had raised the NU differentials because of grass roots concerns by Biba members in the run-up to the conference.