I recently purchased a static caravan in the Yorkshire Dales and as MD of a commercial-only broker needed to find another broker who would arrange cover for me. Within the paperwork for the van was a proposal form stamped with the caravan site letterhead but issued by a well-known broker who has recently been purchased by a larger national broker.
Assuming that the caravan agent on-site would no longer be able to arrange cover I contacted the broker on my return to my office. The conversation went like this:
Me: I'd like a quote to insure a static caravan please.
Broker: I'll need your name and address.
Me: Ok it's...
Broker: What's the value of the caravan?
Me: Do you mean how much have I paid for it or how much would a new one be?
Broker: We can quote on either. Do you want me to do two quotes?
Me: Yes please.
Broker: Where is it kept? I gave the name of the site but no address.
Broker: Is it a registered site?
Broker: OK I'll work some figures out for you.
After a short while, the broker returned and gave me two quotations, having checked whether I wanted contents cover. The quotes were very competitive.
Me: Are there any exclusions or conditions?
Broker: Er, no I don't think so.
Me: So will I definitely pay the premium you have quoted me?
Me: Will you send the quotes to me?
Broker: Yes, if you'd like me to.
Me: Do you need any more info from me?
During the conversation I was not given any information about what cover I was getting, nor who the insurer was. I wasn't asked if I'd had previous claims, if the area was subject to flooding (which potentially it may be) nor for details of my occupation.
Having spent many hours working on our own FSA compliance regime I am staggered that three months after 14 January one of the UK's largest brokers is still not complying with the basics of retail customer compliance.
I accept that this may be an unfair isolated incident of a member of staff who had not been properly trained and I have no wish to encourage the scripted telephone conversation which most customers don't want to hear, but I would certainly expect better from this organisation.
I would be shocked if I overheard a member of my own staff displaying such a lack of knowledge of the basics. Had I been a mystery shopper from the FSA then I would certainly have taken further action.
Perhaps my misgivings about the need for the imposition of the whole FSA regime for brokers were entirely unfounded and our industry does indeed need to get its house in order. Let's hope that the insurance-buying public is better served by the majority of UK brokers.
Name and address withheld