Claims, renewals and response times in 16-point Biba service standard

Insurers must send brokers renewal terms 21 days before the existing policy expires, under Biba's new service standards agreement.

Biba's board finalised the standards at its meeting last week.

The UK's 16 biggest insurers have agreed to abide by the standards, which will be effective from their launch on 31 January.

Under the 16 specific elements that make up the standards, insurers that are unable to meet the 21-day renewal deadline must extend cover by 14 days to give the broker an opportunity to find alternative cover.

Brokers must give insurers the information they require to issue the renewal terms 21 days before their clients' policies expire.

The standards require insurers to process additional or return premiums below £50 on commercial policies and £20 on personal policies only once each year to save administration costs.

They also cover issues such as promptness of claims settlement, documentation and response times.

Biba chief executive Mike Williams said the standards would reach all Biba members and participating insurers this week.

"A key element to the standards is a statement of principles which acknowledges the fact that both brokers and insurers are not happy with current service standards," he said.

"This runs from the speed of claims settlement and the accuracy of documents to the accessibility of decision makers."

Williams said insurers and brokers would have a three-month trial period from the launch of the standards to become compliant with them.

"Biba is going to collate their performances monthly and publish information that outlines the hot spots and cool spots of service," he said.

"We won't start naming and shaming individual insurers, it's a bit early for that."

Meanwhile, at last week's meeting AA Insurance Services managing director Andrew Briscoe joined the Biba board for the first time.