The British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) has warned that consumers may not get the best deal from Bradford & Bingley (B&B), following its transformation into the largest retailer of independent financial services.
Biba spokeswoman Jennifer Weller expressed concerns over B&B's launch of a multi-channel financial services network, The Marketplace, which is backed by a £10m promotional campaign.
“Some insurance products are incredibly complex, particularly income protection, and it is worrying that consumers are being led along by advertising hype to put all their eggs in one basket,” said Weller.
Consumers should shop around, because they can secure the best insurance from brokers with the appropriate skills and underwriting expertise.
The Marketplace at B&B will offer a host of insurance products including term assurance, critical illness, mortgage and income protection cover. It has also signed up a panel of ten household insurers, including Eagle Star and Groupama.
The bank claims its emphasis on providing independent advice and choice will make it one of the most competitive product providers.
However, the bank only began to broke general insurance last year. B&B said that it devised The Marketplace in response to research by the Financial Services Authority, which shows that while most people want independent financial advice they do not know where to find it.
Ian Darby, B&B commercial director, said it aimed to challenge other banks that had been getting away with selling their own financial products for years.
“The choice we are offering is wide, and because our advisers are not biased by differing commission levels, B&B can truly say it offers customers ‘What's best for you, not us',” he said.
The Marketplace has been launched nationally in B&B's 500-branch network following a successful pilot.
The website is marketplace.co.uk.