We consider ourselves to be professional insurance brokers and have recently become concerned at the number of our clients who appear able to obtain far superior commercial quotations to ours, often with the same companies we are using, following four years of plummeting premiums, when the same companies are complaining about poor loss ratios.

One proposal which we have received may go some way to explaining this phenomenon. In this proposal our client only disclosed one claim worth £3,000. However, in the period concerned the client actually made four claims worth around £10,000.

Even in the current market, this would surely cause any underwriter to substantially alter the terms originally provided on the basis of a single claim. In this instance we are certain our client had no deliberate intention of misleading the insurers and we have noticed the error as the policy has remained with us. How much business have we lost to competition when we have been unaware of exactly what information has been disclosed, innocently or otherwise, to a third party?

Surely it is about time that the industry takes steps to stop this type of thing happening by use of a computerised claims register and compulsory checking of all proposal forms against it.

Surely everybody will benefit from this. We will retain more of our business at realistic premiums, insurers likewise. Clients with good loss ratios will benefit from lower, stable premiums as those clients with poor loss ratios will pay more realistic premiums, being unable to simply move form insurer to insurer "forgetting" the odd claim or two. Insurers would also have the extra benefit of lower expenses as considerably less time would be sent cancelling old policies and issuing a new one in an annual merry-go-round.

Why will insurers not get to grips with this problem?
L Tucker
Walmsey Baker
Clifton house,
22 Henver Road,
Cornwall TR7 3WB

Chiefs must go to grass roots
I read with interest your report on record motor losses (Insurance Times October 7) and agree entirely with the sentiments that premiums have to rise to enable the motor market to return to profit.

Let us hope that the insurers still writing business at suicidal premiums read that report and act in a positive manner.

My main point of this letter, however, is the fact that Royal & SunAlliance and Norwich Union have each established a ten per cent lead over the market.

Both of these companies are providing some of the worst service that I have experienced in 25 years.

Patrick Snowball's (Norwich Union's chief executive of general insurance) contention that his company's performance was due to a combination of efficient claims handling and a concentration on margins may be what he has been told. The reality is a reduction in staff levels, mainly at the expense of experience, poorly-trained existing staff and low morale.

The sooner chief executives and the senior management of major insurers find out first hand how the grass roots members of staff are performing, and realise that their salaries are paid by the paying public and not the shareholders, the better. Only then will insurers establish a genuine lead over the market.
Vincent Wadsworth
managing director
F R Ball Insurance Brokers,

Incorrect idea of 'experience'
What a pity that the author of the letter published on October 7 under the headline No Room for Passengers asked for their name and address to be withheld. Unfortunately he/she is mistaken in their understanding of the concept of experience.

There are people who have been driving for 40 or 50 years without ever having had an accident, unlike some smart-alecks who think they know it all just because they passed a test.

Having experience doesn't necessarily imply a history of mistakes, nor does being academically qualified necessarily mean that mistakes won't be made.

More importantly, why does the writer assume that because someone is not academically qualified, they neither have a grasp of the fundamentals, nor are they capable of "staying in touch in an ever-changing world"?
Simon Phelan
Transmed International,

No sympathy from this IFA
It is with great interest that I as an IFA am reading your debate about the Ombudsman's £500 fine for any sort of enquiry into a complaint.

As IFAs we have had to stand this cost for several years. It would be interesting if we could find a life and pensions company along the lines of Ecclesiastical which would back us up when a claim is not justified.
David Harvey MLIA (Dip)
Financial Advice Bureau,