Tis the season for good tidings and joy as you all well know. But sadly not at chez Santa Claus, which is the reason I am writing to you all through this open letter to the industry via the esteemed organ Insurance Times.

Over the years, I have used our local high street broker Tinselgate and the service has always been good. The premiums, naturally, are competitive due to the nature of my work but Nicholas, my broker, has negotiated very successfully with the Lapland Re underwriters.

Until this year. Normally we have a protracted argument over public and employers' liability problems. First, the elves are always strapped in on the sleigh and, for the past three years, the underwriters have insisted they wear parachutes. I do not drink all the ports and brandies (though I have often tripped over the occasional inebriated father at the foot of the chimney, but have never submitted a claim). And Mrs Santa and I have been taking pilates classes this year so limiting my chances of getting stuck in any chimneys.

Now more questions are being asked and Nick is getting very stressed. Poor Rudolph is getting on in years (the elves have nicknamed him Desert Orchid) and he probably should be put out to a nice pasture. But he is still my best boy, and the kids love him.

However the underwriter wanted to know about "his illness". I said what illness? His red nose. The little jobsworth wanted to know if it was a "pre-condition" because the insurer excluded most critical illness. Rudolph's nose has never stopped him doing his job, I replied, and it has a practical use as it guides our way.

He would have none of it and loaded the premium by nearly 130%. I was outraged. Nick told me it was "typical" because the market was looking to "harden" after one of the "softest cycles in recent times". All of this was total gobbledegook to an aging old man.

Nicholas also said something called the FSA which monitors your industry to see if you have been good. A bit like me really. I kinda got the concept, though he mentioned TCF, which I thought was a lotion to clear acne. But this FSA lot wants to "treat customers fairly".

Well all I can say is poor Rudolph has not been treated fairly and I have had to make cutbacks to pay for my insurance. Which means watch out this Christmas for falling elves and low-flying sleighs because Blitzen is leading the pack this year with a couple of fog lamps strapped to his chest. Merry Xmas! IT