The Insider ponders the consumer’s perspective, from insurance claims stuck in the pipeline to seriously over-priced boiler servicing

Brokers are certainly not known for being a risk-loving bunch, but Cullum Capital Ventures’s Keith Insch is proving it’s never too late to break that mould. On a recent Alps skiing trip, the keen sportsman couldn’t resist an opportunity to partake in amateur speed skiing. But after repeated attempts to break the 100km/hr barrier, Insch just missed his mark – reaching only 99.8km/hr.

His explanation? “I’m too old to get down into a tight enough ball to really fly.”

A three-month hangover

What is going on with AXA and Aviva’s claims handling? An old pal of mine, a director at an underwriting agency who prides himself on customer service, had an unfortunate accident when coffee was spilt on an Aviva-insured company laptop. To cut a very long story short, after numerous faxes and phone calls,

Aviva still hadn’t sent a claim form a week later. The excuse? They’re still very busy with Christmas claims. At least the underwriting agency director was consoled by a colleague who shared his pain. The colleague has only just received AXA’s payment three months after his boiler broke down. “No wonder insurance has got such a bad name with the public,” the director growled.

Strong arm tactics

And I gather that my friend Paul Geddes has got a new hobby. The RBSI chief executive can be observed in Hyde Park at the crack of dawn with boxing gloves strapped on. Before you ask, he’s not taking punishment from irate tax payers venting their frustration at the bailed-out bank. Instead, the boxing classes are Geddes’ new exercise regime. When I bumped into him at the England v Scotland rugby international last weekend, Geddes was showing off his powerful new arm muscles. But he lamented that it wasn’t so effective at getting the pounds off his midriff. Still, makes a change from his other principal pastime – playing the violin and listening to classical music.

Hot topic

I recently attended an event at the Old Library in Lloyd’s, where Towergate chief executive Andy Homer delivered a talk on the advantages of being a chartered insurer and broker. He praised the value for money that Towergate got by spending £475,000 a year on Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) training, adding: “It’s cheaper than getting my boiler serviced.” I’m pleased Towergate is so happy with the cost of CII training, but I wonder if any brokers could do Homer a favour and apply their deal-finding skills to get him a more competitive rate for central heating services.

A great all-rounder

I discovered a new side to my friend Michael Rea after spotting him wearing a Marylebone Cricket Club tie the other night. The CCV chief actually played for the club, rather than just being a member. Turns out Rea was an opening batsman for Ireland during the eighties and nineties, with an average of just over 30 runs.

His eyes went a bit misty when asked if he would have liked to be in India for his old side’s World Cup victory over England this month. But Rea is long retired – the only catches he scores nowadays are brokers.

Visual basics

Insurance technology has its fads, and many programs have come and gone with little impact. So how do IT eggheads know when to take new software seriously? The acid test is whether it has appeared in the Dilbert cartoon strip, according to a friend of mine in computing. If a programme appears in Dilbert, it’s here to stay. Cartoons guarantee quality, eh? I’ll remember that when picking my next Backchat cartoon … IT