Norwich Union and AXA favour FSA over Claims Standards Council for watchdog role

Pressure is mounting on the government to name the FSA as the new claims regulator, after two of the UK's largest insurers backed the body.

Amid rumours that the Claims Standards Council (CSC) will not become the statutory regulator, Norwich Union (NU) and AXA have backed the financial services watchdog extending its remit to regulate claims management companies.

This is the first time that NU has publicly given its support to any body to become the claims regulator.

NU head of technical claims Dominic Clayden said: "The FSA has credibility and there is the tie-up with insurance, such as after-the-event insurance.

"It would also give consumers the opportunity to go to the FOS [Financial Ombudsman Service], as it is not clear under clause two [of the Compensation Bill] where a consumer goes to get redress. Under the FSA there is a clear model for where consumers can go."

AXA claims director David Williams, who has been a supporter of the CSC, said this week: "I would love the FSA to take over as regulator tomorrow. It has the rigour and ability to impose penalties, which is what the sector needs.

But an FSA source said it appeared unlikely that the body would be made the regulator. "There have been no pre-meetings with government which would indicate this was on the cards."

An FSA spokesman said the body would "implement and develop a regime if required to".

The Department for Constitutional Affairs is expected next week to present to the House of Lords the findings of an independent report on the suitability of the CSC to be the statutory regulator.

As revealed by Insurance Times (News 7 Feb), the report, written by former ABI director-general Mark Boleat, is expected to recommend that the CSC distance itself from commercial operations, which could lead to conflicts of interest.