Three of the industry's key professional bodies have had preliminary talks to discuss merging their annual conferences in the future.

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (Cila) recently set up a working party to explore the possibility of creating a mega-conference, based in either London or the Midlands. The British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) has also been approached to join the working party.

CII chairman Dr Sandy Scott said: "These are very much exploratory talks and if anything were to be done, it would not happen for some years. Though it doesn't make much sense for professional bodies and trade associations to all compete for limited sponsorship."

The CII delegation is headed by Bob Beckett of The Beckett Group, while Cila's president George Moss and his deputy, Mike Burnett, are representing the loss adjusters' institute. The working party has been meeting once a month and the CII and Cila are at the early stages of agreeing a joint conference in 2003.

Moss said: "It does seem logical for us and other professional organisations to combine resources so the industry can meet annually under one roof. It is more cost-effective for our members and for the industry as a whole.

"If and when it does happen, each group will still have its own separate special interest meetings such as the annual general meetings."

A spokeswoman for Biba said: "It may have been mentioned in a meeting but at the moment it is pure speculation. We have just had our most successful conference yet, with 800 delegates, and we are looking forward to next year."