While the rest of the economy struggles, the insurance broking sector is looking healthy for the year ahead. And there are other reasons to be cheerful

At this time of year, in true media style, it is traditional to reflect on the significant events of last year and to consider our challenges for 2012.

For me, the two big events of 2011 were the departure of my colleague Peter Staddon, in July, and the completion of the merger with IIB in November. Peter will be missed for the wealth of his technical expertise, but not for the well-worn quips delivered the next morning following a night at a Biba or CII dinner!

The merger with IIB will, at long last, give us with a single voice in the general broking sector and this can only enhance our position with stakeholders in our lobbying activities.

Clouds on the horizon

As we enter 2012, the economy is in dire straits, the insurance market shows no real signs of hardening, and there are still clouds on the horizon for those insurers with large trading platforms in the eurozone.

The broking sector, however is looking quite healthy, not least due to the resilience and innovation shown by broking firms.

Work in many of the areas areas where Biba focused a great deal of effort in 2011 will continue. In particular, as we move closer to June 2013 and the expiry of the statement of principles, we are still some way off an available and affordable agreed solution for flood cover for those properties that are at risk of flooding.

Biba is, however, continuing to work with the ABI, DEFRA and other stakeholders to find the right solution.

April milestone for employers’ liability database

The employers’ liability database, managed by ELTO, will reach a significant milestone in April when it becomes mandatory for insurers to provide the database with full details of all subsidiary companies and also the employer reference number for each insured.

It is this latter information which is continuing to cause headaches for brokers at small business and micro business level, as there is often little desire for those businesses to co operate and provide this information.

I am also particularly excited by our newly formed Broker-Insurer Liaison Group, set up to look at issues affecting broker-insurer relationships, with a view to achieving some commonality or protocols where possible, using sub groups from both Biba and ABI Committees.

These specific issues, many of which are raised by our members as technical queries, will be identified in an issues register that will track progress through to an outcome. Early subjects for debate have included terms of business agreements and an updating of transfer and reporting mandate protocols.

Business interruption and underinsurance

I could go on, as I also see business interruption and the challenge of dealing with underinsurance as an increasing problem for brokers. I believe a review of business interruption wordings is long overdue to make these more user friendly and fit for purpose in 2012.

These areas are likely to be Biba’s, and therefore my, focus in the technical department during 2012, but the unknown quantities will remain. Will we see a resurgence of the riots we had last summer, or another weather-related catastrophe perhaps? Let’s hope not.

Steve Foulsham is Biba’s head of technical services.