I would like to respond to the points raised in John H Fox's letter (March 8, “Tired of the propaganda”), as I fear he is the one who is a victim of misinformation.

I personally cannot see a problem with being involved with a regulator that promotes a level playing field and fair and transparent dealings with customers. The Institute of Insurance Brokers (IIB)/Insurance Brokers' Registration Council (IBRC) would not accept membership from “mere” intermediaries such as myself, but the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) regulates all brokers and intermediaries.

If my statement regarding IPT and the travel industry is not correct, why did the government single it out for special tax treatment? It is obvious, as well, that a different rate of tax could not be charged for the same product through different sales channels.

The Association of Insurance Intermediaries and Brokers (AIIB) had already made official complaints to both the GISC and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about Direct Line's advertising, long before Richard Mikula's letter (February 22). Following the AIIB's complaints, the Direct Line ad in question has been withdrawn and GISC is considering what further action is to be taken. Before GISC, there was no independent body to whom an intermediary or broker could make an official complaint regarding an insurer. Now there is.

I would respectfully suggest that anyone who hasn't read the GISC rulebook does so as soon as possible. They will see that there is a fair and democratic process to deal with breaches of the rules.

With regard to customer redress against insurance companies, it should be remembered that the GISC is about insurance regulation for the benefit of the customer, not for the benefit of insurer or intermediary. It is about regulating the general insurance industry as a whole. It is totally misleading and inaccurate of Mr Fox to suggest, without any evidence at all, that a regulator might be “softer” on insurers than on intermediaries.

Now we've got the opportunity to have a level playing field for everyone in general insurance, it appears there is a small number of insurance brokers who don't want it – or perhaps they are frightened of being regulated and monitored?

On a personal note, I would reiterate that I am not “anti-IIB” as Mr Fox suggests. Andrew Paddick and I have been in the industry together for a long time and respect each other's viewpoints. I am still a council member of the IBRC and shall remain so until the IBRA is repealed.
Mike Slack
AIIB chairman

Spread it around
Reading the letters page with interest – in particular Louise Scaife and Oscar Hasdell's letters – could it not be in the interest of all drivers to form a separate company, funded by all insurers to cater for the youngsters who are at present being penalised by the majority of insurers?

Elderly drivers should be rewarded for loyalty if they have stayed with a company for at least ten years without a claim. Drivers flitting from one company to another would have to take their chance.

Third-party insurance is compulsory, yet youngsters without any form of a record find themselves unable to afford even this very basic cover.

The company would be funded by all motor insurers and charged in proportion to the motor business they now write for the 30 to 70 age group.

Once a youngster has achieved the age of 25, he has a track record and would only be penalised for his own actions. The new company could insure persons from 17 to 25, rating only on a reasonable basic premium for third-party cover.

Options for extra covers would incur realistic additional premiums rating on postcodes. Rating loads would only exist for any offending youngsters.

Would this help to address the problem of driving without insurance? And also tackle the issue of policyholders moving from one insurer to another in their attractive years.
Pat Pitts
Partner of John F Bramley

Best behaviour culture
Catherine Taylor's views regarding the impression a contractor makes on a client (Claims Special, February 22) are no doubt valid, and clearly the way an organisation presents itself is led from the top.

However, behavioural culture is largely a marketing issue and should not be considered with standards of workmanship or operational procedure.

Where two companies offer the same service, the one that is perceived to be well organised, polite and efficient will score every time against an outfit that appears slovenly and disinterested in the client's needs. But this can equally apply to any other industry. Taylor's argument that setting operating standards within an industry does not in itself raise them, begs an alternative view.

In the field of disaster recovery and restoration, poor workmanship is not only an issue about the loss of a future contract. At best it may require costly corrective action, at worst it could be fatal.

Where two companies offer a slick, well organised response, but one carries out the work to accepted minimum standards, while the other neglects key operational procedures, the client may only find out the cost of using the latter too late.

It is for this reason the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) is concerned with promoting and regulating professional standards throughout the industry, not just among ground floor operatives as Taylor suggests.

The answer lies not in policing an organisation's corporate culture. That, as she rightly says, must come from within and from the top.

Polite acceptance of sub-standard work is no way to hold on to a contract.
Elaine McErlean
Business administration and development consultant

Spurious grounds
Following discussions with colleagues in the insurance market, it has come to my attention that, with the exception of one company (now in run-off), consequential loss claims made by hoteliers as a result of holiday cancellations due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak are being turned down.

The grounds for the refusal to deal with these claims is the inclusion of the word human in the clause relating to notifiable diseases. The clause specifies an outbreak of any human infectious or contagious disease ocurring within 25 miles of the premises, which by reason of the abnormal number of cases causes prospective guests to refrain from making bookings for accommodation or, gives legal grounds for guests to cancel bookings.

Surely the reliance on the word human in this context is insufficient reason for declining the claims when so much publicity emphasises that the disease can be spread by human contact with infected animals.

It is confirmation of this fact that country paths, walks and bridelways are now closed and many sporting events have been cancelled or postponed.

Does this not validate the ensuing consequential loss claims?
Name and address withheld

Always determined
In his Viewpoint column of March 15, Tony Baker asks what priority fraud prevention now has at the ABI. The answer is that it will have an even higher priority than in the past. Since it was established in 1994, the crime and fraud prevention bureau has been involved in a number of successful initiatives, but now it needs a new strategic direction.

The ABI has recently created a new fraud committee to coordinate all its fraud prevention and detection work. The committee draws on insurance fraud detection expertise across all sectors of the industry. The ABI has also recently appointed a new fraud manager, Paul Crake, who has over 20 years' experience in fraud investigations with government agencies and the Financial Services Authority.

The ABI's determination to reduce fraud remains undiminished.
Stephen Sklaroff
ABI deputy director general