Insurance lobbyists have their work cut out with the latest round of legislative proposals

It’s that time of year again. As politicians gather in Brighton and Manchester for their annual party conferences, and the next session of parliament gets underway, insurance lobbyists are gearing up to get their voice heard. On key issues, from flooding to liabilities, there is much work to be done before the next election. Whoever wins, the ABI along with other trade bodies and the major insurers will be keen to get their ear. Here are five of the top issues currently occupying their minds:

1) The draft Flood and Water Management Bill is currently passing through the legislative process. It includes measures for a more co-ordinated approach to flooding, with clear responsibilities for the many public authorities, plus an enhanced role for the Environment Agency. The ABI has given its backing to the bill, and it and all the major insurers are pushing for the bill to be passed before the end of this parliament.

2) The Equalities Bill has just passed committee stage in the House of Commons. Insurers are particularly concerned about clause 190, which raises the possibility that insurers will be prevented from using age as a factor in assessing risk. There is also a concern that insurers will be required to publish the data they use to calculate premiums, which they claim would be anti-competitive. The ABI is lobbying to win insurers exemption from this bill.

3) The wrangling over pleural plaques continues unabated. The Scottish parliament has passed an act overturning the House of Lords judgment that made pleural plaques uncompensatable. Four insurers are currently seeking a judicial review of this legislation. Meanwhile, there is pressure from trade unions and campaign groups to introduce a similar bill in Westminster, which is being vigorously opposed by the insurance industry.

4) The government will publish the Financial Services and Business Bill when parliament resumes. The bill comes on the back of the July white paper, ‘Reforming Financial Markets’. Key proposals are expected to include an enhanced role for the FSA and the continuation of the tripartite regulatory system. The ABI and individual insurers will be lobbying to ensure that insurers are not subject to the more stringent regulation now required by the banks.

5) In Europe, discussions continue over the Solvency II directive. While the UK insurance industry has broadly signed up to the direction of the new legislation, there is some disagreement over its implementation. The ABI believes European regulators have taken an unnecessarily conservative approach to implementing the directive in the consultation papers released over the summer, and are lobbying both the UK government and the European authorities to have this reversed. The arguments centre on the degree of capital reserves required.

Key points

  • The draft Flood and Water Management Bill seeks to create a more co-ordinated approach to managing flooding
  • Age discrimination, as outlined in the forthcoming Equalities Bill, remains a key concern for insurers
  • The issue of compensating pleural plaques continues to be vigorously debated by insurers and campaigners
  • Insurers are lobbying to ensure they are treated differently to banks in the new Financial Services and Business Bill
  • Solvency II continues to be a hot topic for the industry