While household contents insurance makes up a relatively small part of the industry's total revenue, for the majority of people in the UK, home and motor insurance are perhaps the most visible faces of the insurance industry, and the sector with which they will have most contact as customers.

This is also where a lot of the poor image of the insurance industry is created.

There is an obvious disparity between the headline aims and wishes of senior industry representatives and the experiences of these household insurance customers, as was highlighted in research conducted by Secure Inventories at the end of last year (Viewpoint, 29 November, insurancetimes.co.uk).

This research showed that the primary focus of insurance advisers in call centres and sales teams was on quick call turnaround times, and on competitive premiums.

Customer service and care over the accuracy of insurance cover offered was distinctly lacking. In fact, the majority of quotes received in our survey would have left our researcher's home contents under-insured.

Under-insurance is widespread and costly, and yet very few brokers and insurers seem to put measures into their sales process to eliminate the problem. Instead, they rely on householders to know the full replacement value of all their possessions. Our experience shows that this kind of knowledge is rare among householders.

Good practice would surely involve insurance advisers guiding customers to good products.

Insurers and brokers need to make sure that good advice is given where it matters - at the point of contact with the customer.

If the insurance industry wants to improve its image, surely it is incumbent on it to take appropriate steps.

Steve Read
Director, sales & marketing
Secure Inventories