Trade body plans further research to fight for big retail brokers

Biba has vowed to continue to fight the FSA over changes to the disclosure rules that it claims will destroy the "level playing field" between brokers and direct insurers.

The trade body is to conduct further research in an attempt to persuade the FSA to reverse changes to the rules that mean direct insurers can give out less information to customers than brokers.

The rule changes mean that direct insurers no longer need to disclose their status - the fact that they are an insurer not a broker - and they do not need to provide a demands and needs statement.

Biba argues that the FSA's changes, implemented earlier this year, only serve to confuse customers and are unfair to brokers.

Steve White, regulation and compliance manager at Biba, said: "This is still on Biba's radar. We are looking to see how we can fight the corner of the big retail brokers who will be at the greatest disadvantage."

He would not comment on the nature of the research that Biba would be undertaking.

It is likely to follow on from the work Biba conducted earlier in the year, in which it commissioned research on consumers' understanding of brokers and direct insurers.

At the time, Biba tried to persuade the FSA not to change the disclosure rules. But the regulator did not accept Biba's arguments that consumers would be detrimentally affected by a change in the rules (News, 23 June).

At the time an FSA spokesman said: "When regulation was introduced, we decided to 'gold plate' the Insurance Mediation Directive.

At the time, we decided to extend the same disclosure rules to direct insurers, but we later felt it was so marginal in terms of benefit that we changed them."

Andrew Honey, head of insurance at the FSA's small firms division, told Insurance Times: "There has been no evidence of material confusion that has come to our attention. We took evidence from the consumer panel, so we felt comfortable with the decision."

Honey said that the FSA would consider changing the rule, like all others, if it was not "working".

He said the FSA would need to do a cost-benefit analysis if it were to add further rules.