Gisc rules give our competitors an insight

A number of the rules in GISC's rulebook give rise to serious concern but my greatest fear arises out of pages 4 and 5 of the application form, which require applicants to provide a detailed analysis of their premium income and method of sale. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of the GISC board are drawn from insurers or national/international brokers, it seems quite outrageous to me that applicants are expected to provide extremely detailed and commercially sensitive information regarding the operation of their businesses that would be of great value to insurers and large broking organisations looking to expand their own business or direct arms.

Not only are the applicants required to state the percentage of their total premiums split between various categories but also the number of policies sold in each category. This will enable the average premium per policy to be worked out, I am sure that both insurers and ambitious brokers are fully aware of the value of information. If I were looking to open new branches or target business in towns and cities throughout the UK, having detailed knowledge of the local intermediary and his spread of business and average premiums in each town would enable me to target the most profitable locations.

I am surprised GISC have not asked for the names and address of each policyholder and their renewal date.

Insurance companies and large brokers do not make available highly paid senior staff to sit on the GISC or similar boards merely for the good of the industry. They seek commercial advantage and no one will convince me that the detailed information required by the GISC will remain entirely confidential. I will be interested to hear whether GISC can provide a credible explanation as to why such a detailed breakdown of business is required.
--
Bryan Whicher,
Whichers Insurance Services,
Coulsdon,
Surrey.

Keep it in proportion

We are interested to hear the pleas by Medico-Legal Consultancy for notes to be sourced on every occasion. While we fully appreciate that every solicitor and insurance company can point out the fraudulent claimant, it is also important to bear in mind the central precept of the Woolf Reforms, namely proportionality.

With regard to fast-track claims, the great majority of these can be settled by General Practitioners' reports. For these reports the instructing party can request the notes, the examining doctor, having seen the client, can request the notes and the third party can ask for the notes to be examined at the clarification of the protocol.

This means that, where claimants are fully recovered or there is a very short prognosis, it is unlikely that notes would require to be sourced. Where there is a referral to a specialist all notes would be sourced at that stage.

This method of operation ensures that as far as possible notes are only sourced where relevant, as is being proposed under the RTA Protocol.

As a separate issue, we believe that those who write medico-legal reports should be in practice, not having as their sole qualification the fact that they write medico-legal reports. To make it clear, we do not believe in the utilisation of "professional" medico-legal report writers.

In conclusion, the Association of Medical Reporting Organisations stands for nationwide coverage of medical experts currently in practice providing comprehensive, objective reports in accordance with the Protocol. In respect of proportionality, we believe that reports should be commissioned from experts with the relevant expertise and that notes should be sourced when and where relevant.
--
Alexander MacLachlan,
Association of Medical Reporting Organisations,
Reading

Fight off foreign interest

It is good to see Freddie Hospedales of the CII getting into the fray. He should have told British insurers long ago that they needed to retain underwriters at the helm.

One by one, the big bosses have become accountants and so on – just as Freddie says – and one by one, they have drifted and been taken over by foreign insurers.

The last big one was the French company Axa taking over the good old Guardian. There are only three or four insurers that are now British controlled.

However, even they are not safe from the interlopers. That is shown by Commercial Union, General Accident and Norwich Union combining in a bid to stave off the evil day a little longer.

Will anyone take heed?
--
J H Green
Appleton & Green Ltd
Insurance House
345 Wellington Road North

Spleen vent

Following this week's course of events concerning an "attempted" transfer of agency on a small motor fleet, I felt compelled to vent my spleen in a letter to your good selves.

My plight, I am sure you will agree will be echoed all over the country by small rural, provincially owned brokers who feel that insurers are not only paranoid about market size but adopt the small, bloody-minded attitude when it come to dealing with different brokers of different sizes.

Late last year, a client of mine was bought by another business and the broker of the new owner transferred the policies to their agency. As a result the insurance companies in question, sent by 2nd class post notice of the transfer to another "larger" broker and by the time I had made enquiries, the policy and information had been transferred and I was reminded by the insurers that under the ABI guidelines a transfer of agency is with immediate effect and that only a reporting mandate has a protocol of seven-day waiting period.

However, I was fortunate enough (after nearly two years of trying), to obtain a transfer of agency mandate from a small engineering company local to our office. The mandate was faxed to Zurich Commercial on Monday. They acknowledged it on Tuesday and said that they had phoned the brokers immediately upon receipt of the mandate and were allowing a day or so for the holding broker (W. Denis Insurance Brokers, Leeds) to contact the client.

The holding broker alleged that they were unable to contact the principal of the firm on several occasions, but insisted to Zurich Commercial that the client must have intended to sign only a reporting mandate and that a rescinding mandate would follow.

On hearing the allegations, I contacted the client and spoke to the principal at the first attempt, who reiterated that he was under no misunderstanding about what he had signed and what his intentions regarding the policy was.

To speed up the transfer, the principal agreed to take the unprecedented step and fax a letter to the account executive at W Denis insurance brokers stating that he clearly wanted the policy to be transferred and that he no longer wished them to be his brokers. (This was faxed to the holding broker Thursday June 8).

A copy of this letter was sent to me, which I duly sent to Zurich Commercial, who this morning said that the holding broker was still not accepting the transfer request and that the client was only intending to sign a reporting mandate, even though the broker openly admitted that he had not yet spoken to the client.

Despite the initial transfer mandate, which had been completed in accordance with the ABI guidelines and indeed a second letter to the holding broker endorsing the transfer, Zurich Commercial was only prepared to accept the holding brokers' comments and refused to transfer the policy and release information to me at the time of writing, until a "reasonable time had passed to allow the holding broker to obtain any rescinding instructions" – the policy is due next Wednesday.

I firmly believe that the above actions by Zurich Commercial are as result of the contrasting size of the respective accounts that both ourselves and W Denis hold with the company.

Insurance companies are doing everything to ensure that the small brokers stay small and the large brokers get larger – or am I getting paranoid ?

Spleen duly vented.
--
Julian Hale,
Account Executive,
Spedding Goldthorpe (Brokers),
Dewsbury,
West Yorkshire

Professional touch

Christopher Henley's informative article ("Are brokers real professionals?" – issue June 15) is a useful addition to the debate about professionalism.

In his letter in the same issue, John Lynch calls for a new self regulation scheme, having kindly described my earlier letter (issue May 25) as a "clarion call for change".

It is not surprising that this whole issue is at the top of everyone's agenda, and the fact that it is arousing so much interest bodes well for the future. The better informed everyone is, the better the decisions that will be made.

Since my letter merely touched on a couple of the points, which I covered in my much fuller talk on true professionalism at the Biba conference, your readers may find it helpful to see the full text of the talk I gave on the subject.

Some people may find aspects of itcontroversial, but if it stimulates the debate further then it will have served its purpose.

Accordingly, please could anyone wishing to have a copy of my talk at the Biba
conference send me an email at(stuartwhite@hextalls.com), and I will send the text in return.
--
Stuart White,
Hextall Erskine,
Solicitors

It's a kid on?

There has been a numerous amount of correspondence regarding the dual pricing debate, mainly derisions aimed at Norwich Union, but just to break the mould, your readers might be interested to know what happened to my own office manager recently.

The lady concerned had a two-year-old Fiat Pinto Cabriolet and enjoys maximum discounts on her policy, which was placed last year with Bradford Pennine Dial 24.
This was by far the best rate available and although we do not agree with their somewhat miserly renewal commissions, this was the best place for the risk.

The renewal of the policy falls due next month and a request for £294 was received in a recent post. Coincidentally, at the same time the postman delivered an invitation from Royal SunAlliance Direct at Horsham to telephone their freephone number for aquotation.

Being of an inquisitive mind, my office manager phoned them and received a premium of £231.98 with all terms as per her existing policy with Dial 24 – and it is, of course, also part of Royal SunAlliance.

Considering that the Dial 24 premium was £294 and the best rate we had on our screen was £310 with Cornhill, it really makes us wonder who is kidding who in these matters?

How the loss ratios that we are being bombarded with by our own insurers must surely be smothered in crocodile tears as RSA Direct could not offer such a low premium if they were not in a profitable situation.

How about a response from some of the insurance companies' underwriting managers on this situation? Perhaps this story could be the catalyst for another category for the alternative insurance awards later this year under the heading of "Who's kidding who?"

Perhaps other brokers have information on some of the insurers who also operate a dual system with a direct arm as well as a broker arm.

Any communication, either directly to myself at the address opposite or via your column would be of interest.
--
Ian Bevan-Mogg,
Vaughan Insurance Brokers,
Crewkerne,
Somerset