Fury at insurer's ultimatum over 'minded to authorise' letters

Angry brokers slammed MMA this week for making "unreasonable" demands. The insurer wrote to brokers threatening to cancel agencies if they had not told the insurer about their authorisation position by 1 November.

In the letter, signed by marketing strategy and planning manager Kate Penrose, MMA said: "We currently have no record of you holding a 'minded to authorise' or 'variation of permission' letter. Please advise us as soon as you receive this notification, with your FSA reference number."

It continued: "Please be aware that if we have not received any response from you regarding your FSA position prior to 29 October 2004 then your MMA agency facilities will be withdrawn on 1 November 2004".

The letter asks brokers to tick one of three boxes confirming that either:

- The broker has "received a 'minded to authorise' letter for general insurance from the FSA"

- The broker is "no longer applying for the
following reason"

- The broker is "seeking appointed representative status".

One broker said: "We're not very happy about this and I don't think we're making a mountain out of a molehill. It's unreasonable, we have until 14 January 2005 to become authorised."

A compliance specialist at a rival insurer described MMA's approach as "high-handed".

"[The MMA letter] is a completely pointless exercise. We sent out a questionnaire to our brokers asking when they've applied and how they've applied," he said.

"We wouldn't go near that [MMA's] idea as brokers have enough on their plate as it is. It seems a very high-handed attitude."

MMA underwriting director Derek Plummer said: "Our renewals are released up to eight weeks ahead of the inception date. We need sufficient time to manage the process for those intermediaries that are not going to be authorised.

"This is not a decision that we will take lightly. If we know that an intermediary is waiting for its 'minded to authorise' letter, we will not automatically cancel its agency with us on 1 November."