The GISC has no immediate plans to regulate overseas-based internet brokers which provide services in the UK.

The issue of overseas-based web sites has attracted controversy after a number of betting syndicates legitimately set up in the Channel Islands to reduce their exposure to UK levels of betting tax.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown has moved to close this loophole, but it illustrates how the internet can facilitate cross-border selling in goods and services.

The insurance industry's regulatory body has recognised the importance of offshore trading. It is currently recruiting several e-commerce experts to join a special working party to examine the issue.

GISC spokeswoman Catherine Nicholl said: "The working party recognises that e-commerce is an area that may need to be addressed in depth."

But she stressed the GISC has neither the staff or the resources to enable it to regulate non-UK based internet insurers and brokers and is even unsure whether it has the powers to do so.

She added that the GISC also has other competing priorities.

"Our first and foremost duty is to regulate businesses that operate in this country. This is not to say that if selling over the web becomes an issue we may launch an investigation into the matter."