The Government has called for a 30% reduction in car crime. It has also ordered a revised way of recording such crime – which means higher crime figures. Also, the public are encouraged to report incidents which today are considered too petty to bother the police about. Some task!

Impossible it is not. But it requires a change of attitude and behaviour. Perhaps different rules. Also required is the serious assistance of motor insurers, but the ABI seems to imply that the challenge is only for the Government. The main suggestion for making immobilisers compulsory in old cars may be well-meant but figures for recorded theft include reports from those owners who fraudulently claim their vehicles have disappeared or have been destroyed as a result of theft.

There is little need for owners to rid themselves of "new" vehicles, but as cars age they wear and become obsolete. They receive uninsured damage both to body and mechanics. The owners list becomes lengthy and obscure. So do the bills. The cars pass into the hands of those who will not think twice about disposing of them in such a way as to produce an insurance claim in relation to which there will probably not be enough investigation.

Immobilisers will not reduce this sort of car crime, and fraudsters know they have to report an "incident" to the police. So do "drink" or unauthorised drivers who run from an incident scene and report theft.

Perhaps the Government incentive is one to be selfishly adopted for the benefit of insurers. What if insurers' executives called for a 30% reduction in the numbers of reported claims, even those based on a stable number of policyholders in general insurance? It would require a better knowledge of insureds and what it is they seek to and should insure.

The IOB has to play a part once insurers have "tightened" policy wordings. More assistance to non-claiming policyholders would encourage loyalty. Anything that brings down recorded crime makes insurance more profitable, so insurers should be more daring in the cause. Some risks, co-operating with Government initiatives which seem to make sense, are worth us all considering. Otherwise, will IPT rise?
GJ Davidson
Ipswich IP7 6JP

Bolam is right, service is worse
I wonder how many of us there are who have been thinking and expressing the same views recently aired by Simon Bolam and subsequent correspondents. The timing was uncanny as, like another correspondent with a similar period of service, I had for the first time been considering going into print on the matter due to frustratingly worsening service.

There seems due emphasis on the problems which mergers bring, but I believe that this has only aggravated a situation which was already broadly there. It seems that for some time now many insurers have been trying to operate what is really a people business with hardly any people, with the added problems of inadequate training.

The support for Simon Bolam's comments has been overwhelming. Although there would appear to be some small recognition from management that there are problems, they are hardly likely to blow their cover by admitting to all the ills which we see illustrated on a daily basis.

I would like to place one or two matters in perspective. It does seem that most of the criticisms are aimed at two or three insurers, whereas experience proves that it is an almost industry-wide problem. I would also like to say a word in support of CGU, which currently no doubt has temporary problems but, based on experiences, unlike much of the other pretentious promises we see in regular industry newsletters, one is inclined to believe they will actually resolve the problems fairly quickly in the same professional way that both the insurers concerned operated prior to the merger.

Most importantly, can I express a word of sympathy for insurers' staff operating under immense pressure. Many of them are very patient and helpful and have to suffer a certain amount of "ear bashing" from the likes of me. They are merely ambassadors for the companies and nothing is ever meant personally.

Extra remuneration is certainly not the answer. We are, and always have been, a service industry and, at broking level, we are fast replacing the insurer branch network, struggling to continue that service without sufficient support from insurers.
W. Stevens
McMullen Insurance Brokers
372 Charminster Road
Bournemouth BH8 9RX

Polaris has a role to play
I refer to the article which appeared in IT (Oct 14) following the press launch of our e-commerce package. The comments are slightly out of context.

I do believe that the change in technology and new distribution mechanisms which

e-commerce permits challenges the current methodology for electronic trading between brokers and insurers.

The article records that I questioned the robustness of the Polaris run-time quotation engine. This is correct but it must be put in context of Eastgate's proposal to handle several million full-cycle policies in a total e-commerce environment. This is a service designed for insurers and large distributors such as retailers, banks, building societies, utilities and a few brokers with substantial volumes of business. In these circumstances, the rating engine is being exposed to thousands of comparative quotes per day and potentially 40-plus concurrent "hits". The point I was making at the press launch is that the Polaris product was not originally designed with this usage in mind and might struggle with the volume. However, Polaris has been optimised with

e-commerce in contemplation. I emphasised that we were working with Polaris to understand the implication for this type of trading and to ensure the product was fully evaluated.

We intend to use and support Polaris for our smaller applications and to use the Polaris data dictionary as the standard for communication between the external parties involved with our system.

I do not envisage the demise of Polaris – I see it and its services responding to the changing market and continuing to have a role to play in facilitating market trading.
JM Carruthers
chief executive
Insurance Services
Eastgate Group Limited

Industry shows its arrogance
Just like Tony Horsfield, in his letter of October 21, I am appalled at the arrogance of the insurance companies and the complete arrogance of the broking profession!

My allegations are not intended to infer that any of your correspondents are unprofessional. If they or the firms they work for are innocent of my allegations, I unreservedly apologise to them.

I joined a well-known insurer on January 6, 1965. In 1970 I completed my Associateship and followed this 12 months later with the Fellowship.

In July this year I left the company I joined 34 years ago. I wrote to my ex-employer stating that one of the reasons for leaving was my concern at the lack of professionalism within the market. I was also convinced that insurers and brokers alike would see the need to start a drive towards professionalism.

I decided to set up my own business to offer services to intermediaries and clients. Unlike a broker, the client would pay me. It became apparent that most of the insuring public would not be able to afford my services.

I decided some weeks ago to develop an approach that would enable the "man in the street" to benefit from my expertise at a minimal cost.

I would ask the question "How many intermediaries can hand-on-heart say that they neither sold nor recommended the motor trade contract underwritten by a market leader which inadvertently failed to provide theft cover?". How many of them can say that they neither sold nor recommended the household policy that inadvertently provided full new-for-old cover on clothing? What about household policy that gave storm-damage cover to fences?

Yes, insurance companies no longer see the need to provide adequate service levels. This is driven from senior management in most cases. Staff generally are committed to "customer care" and genuinely need all our support. Equally, the broking profession no longer provides the same level of expertise as when I came into insurance.

I do not advocate dealing with direct writers. It could be argued that they are a major cause of the current difficulties.

And, as Mr Horsfield suggests, why not have a name-and-shame column? KD Consultancy will be doing this on the net. I will be inviting the public to send me any recently issued policy document. I will name and shame not only the insurer concerned but also the intermediary who sold the policy if it contains basic cover errors. And yes, if it is a direct writer, I will name them as well.

The web page's address is E-mails can be sent to me at
Keith C Domicey FCII
KD Consultancy