More failures means more policing, says Andy Cook

So 40,000 general insurance customers have been left without cover after Scottish underwriting agency Tribune collected premiums but never placed cover.

How on Earth can this happen? What assurances did Tribune give its sub-brokers? And what did the brokers do to assure their clients that cover was incepted?

These questions remain to be answered as the provisional liquidator picks over the remains. In the same week a Kent broker was arrested by police, accused of obtaining monies by deception and GISC also censured one of its members, First Active.

It seems crazy now, but when it became clear that the FSA would be regulating brokers, many said that it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. On reflection, 40,000 plus customers left without cover seems like a problem that needs policing. If this were to happen in 2005, after regulation comes into force, at least the poor customers would have the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

One can only applaud Cox's decision to offer free cover to Tribune customers who were using its premium finance company Can Do. Of course, it's good marketing - but well done to Cox anyway for grasping a nettle that could sting its profits by £4.5m.

Finally, on behalf of all the staff at Insurance Times, I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.