Battleship Biba crewed by the big brokers

Battleship Biba crewed by the big brokers
I note that the big guns from Battleship Biba, George Nixon and Mike Williams, were quick off the mark in firing a broadside in response to my letter, which you published on January 5. It is interesting that not a single word of condemnation has been published by Biba or any trade associations in response to the Direct line “rip you off with commission charges” advert, but of course, Christopher McKee of Direct line does sit on the GISC Board.
Mike Williams' claim that the make up of the board is balanced, is nonsense. There is almost no representation of smaller brokers on the current board, and under the proposed governance structure the intermediary category will represent just over one-third of the whole, and with “weighted voting” you can be sure those persons will come from national brokers – who dominate Biba.
Why should brokers be regulated by insurers? In recent times many have been embroiled in mis-selling scandals through their direct sales forces. And, currently there is an industry-wide acknowledgement that standards of administration and service are, with a few notable exceptions, appalling. Insurers have their work cut out correcting these problems and should leave the regulation of intermediaries, to intermediary representatives and public interest members.
Diminishing support for the IBRC is as Mike Williams well knows, mainly due to mergers among brokers and not disenchantment as he suggests.
Finally, the suggestion that the government is incapable of consulting with more than one regulator is absurd, particularly as there would be much common ground between regulators on issues of consumer protection, and the professionalism and integrity of intermediaries.
Let's have more objective comment and discussion from our trade associations and less brainwashing.
Bryan Whicher
Whichers Boylan & James
Coulsdon, Surrey

Don't mince your words
Ostrich management rules! That, at least, is the impression gained from the comments made by senior managers from Norwich Union, Axa and Royal & Sunalliance as reported in your columns recently.
The Norwich Union conversion teams working on the transfer of CGU contracts are completely submerged by brokers trying to get accurate information and documentation. The so-called helpline is continually engaged, and requests for assistance from our development consultant are refused on the grounds that even they are unable to speak to anyone involved in the conversion programme.
Yet brokers' friend Ken Wallace fiddles away as his ship sinks, telling Insurance Times that NU has a robust feedback mechanism coupled to a fine tuning process. He is living in a dreamland and, as far as his comments about brokers' favourable reaction – his survey must be worse than the recent one by the IIB.
Axa's so-called broker development manager, Colin Calder, seems to be trying to do the opposite. Instead of tackling Axa's continual problem of inefficient planning and resources, which forces brokers to seek clarification and corrections, he pretends that by shutting us out of the loop, the problems will disappear. So another manager prefers to fiddle while his long-time supporters are culled, until presumably business dries up and he can happily re-emerge from the sand with no more decisions to make.
Royal & Sunalliance commercial director, Rod Kitchen, has had to apologise for his pathetic dismissal of all intermediaries in his marketing letter and seems totally confused about all the fuss. Where do they get these people? No wonder they have problems with rude email
I must regrettably ask for confidentiality for this letter as publication of my name and address might just hasten the end of my 40-year insurance career.
Name and address withheld

EDI is ‘ard to beat
XML – EDI's Poor Relation?
Just because it's Microsoft that arrived late to the party, doesn't mean the music should stop.
XML simply doesn't cut it yet in the business-to-business trading world, as it doesn't even have a standard message format. Biztalk is on the horizon and will solve some of the standards issues with its own growing list of XML schemes. But without a governing body to set the guidelines, there will be consistency problems ahead. EDI, of course, had all this licked years ago.
Sure, XML's human readable format means that at least you can ‘read' what data was originally sent, and have some idea of its content. But, at best, this only provides a printed copy and negates the true benefits of XML as a computer to computer process.
Issues such as synchronising product codes or quantity conversions are not solved by XML. For example, one person's quantity definition for a single pallet, is another person's single box. EDI has been meeting these challenges for over two decades.
It's very trendy to slate EDI over new, perceivably flexible, technologies such as XML, but over 1.5 trillion euros will be traded by the year 2002 using this method alone (Forrester Research). It is ten times more efficient on file size and follows international standards already recognised and adhered to.
What is needed now is a sensible mix of the two – EDI standards using internet transmission protocols ensuring we can trade successfully and openly without missing a beat.
Adrian Stafford-Jones
Managing director
Albany Software

Leave us alone Paddick
As a recipient of the “plea” to join Mr Paddick in yet another of his crusades, may I just say that, if it is to be as responsible a body as the IIB, I for one will not subscribe.
On two occasions I wrote formal letters to Mr Paddick making a complaint against one of his members and I did not even receive the courtesy of an acknowledgement. Telephone messages left were not answered.
That is how seriously the IIB views such matters, will the IRIB be any better?
No, Mr Paddick – give it up and leave us true insurance brokers some diginity.
Anthony Hall ACII

Boys race to Co-op
I refer to the article (Insurance Times, January 16) “Co-op claims prudent premium pricing”. Well, if you call halving the young driver rates prudent then I'm the Pope. We are getting calls every day from young male drivers (17-23) who want motor insurance quotes. When run through our system we are achieving rates of around £1500-£1800, the prospective client thinks this is a joke, especially when the Co-op is quoting rates of around £900 for the same cover.
We are even getting to the point that when a young male rings for a quote, we just give them the number of the Co-op to save them (and ourselves) time and money.
No wonder they are claiming a high increase in new motor business.
Phil Warman
Managing director
Warman & Co (Yeovil) Limited
p.s all power to the GISC!

DOC (you're for it)
Oh, if the world that Mr Scaife of Rickman Tooze would like (do away with driving other cars, Insurance Times, January 11) were to be so simple.
I, for one, am glad that there is still the provision under policies for driving other cars . Take three examples:
The daughter driving down from the north to leave her car at her parents home for Christmas while she enjoys a skiing holiday abroad. She takes the car to the airport.
Father and mother drive out to the car the following day. It starts immediately. Dad drives it home.
The second example, also during Christmas, involved a work colleague who got carried away at the pre-Christmas bash. Normally a very abstemious type he had to get home as the family were going to Wales the following day. A fellow workmate, who has been on the orange squash all day, drove him and his car home.
In the third example, Uncle Fred met the family at a country pub on Boxing Day. He was taken ill. He had insured-only driving cover. His niece was able to drive his car to her home while he went to hospital. Fortunately the problem seemed to have been the prawn cocktail. Without the DOC extension where would the niece have got a cover note to drive his car at 3pm on Boxing Day?
Nice thought, Mr Scaife but surely it is better to have this facility to avoid the innocent being caught out – after all not everyone carries their certificate of insurance on them at all times so that you can check to see if you are covered before you drive.
Anderson & Son
Loxley Fitzpaine

Louise not Louis
I refer to Mr Rodger's response to my letter published in Insurance Times, January 11. It strikes me as odd that Mr Rodger would assume that I am a Mr. Does he think that only men have something to say about our industry? For the record, I am a 28-year-old female with an active interest in the developments of our industry, which I had hoped was not a male-dominated domain.
Ms Louise Scaife,
Rickman Tooze Insurance Consultants
Cirencester, Glos.

Very punny
Could it be that Roy Rodger (Insurance Times, January18 ) is trying to “trigger” a discussion on DOC?
Paul Hudson