Non-brokers could join trade body by autumn

Biba's proposal to extend its membership to non-brokers could be in place by the autumn.

The association's board has given the membership working party approval to go ahead with associate and affiliate membership, and to discuss how it can work and who can be approached.

It is expected that Biba will approach experts, including lawyers and accountants, who can provide on-hand advice to brokers.

Hugh Price, of Hugh James Solicitors, which advises Biba and is looking to become an affiliated member, said: "Biba is looking at widening membership to non-brokers who have an interest in insurance and broking, so those members can be involved in the affairs of Biba and give advice.

"They will have to be selective and anyone applying will have to have specialist knowledge."

Price added: "I hope it does go forward, it would give us, as a law firm, a better opportunity to understand how the industry works and to help the broker."

Biba already has 20 partner members, all insurers that by invitation have decided to address and consult with Biba over a range of market issues

But some brokers were sceptical of plans to widen Biba's membership.

Grant Ellis, Broker Network chief executive, said: "It doesn't sound like membership extension, it sounds like glorified advertising.

"I firmly believe that Biba's role more and more is one of lobbying on behalf of the broking industry, I'd like it to stick to that. This could detract from its core job."

Peter Staddon, head of technical services at Biba, said the membership extension was not about making money, but about giving benefit to members.

He said: "We are regularly contacted by companies who want to joins us, but we are about bringing people in who will bring benefit to our members.

"We're not here to make money, we're here to give benefit."

Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith played down the move.

He said a limited number of affiliate members would be brought in and it was not a major initiative.