Letter of the week

Tradex on the prowl
I wonder whether any of your readers have experienced the following in their dealings with Tradex.

My sales partner recently had the good fo ...

Letter of the week

Tradex on the prowl
I wonder whether any of your readers have experienced the following in their dealings with Tradex.

My sales partner recently had the good fortune to provide terms for a local motor trade risk and having put in an extraordinary amount of effort managed to negotiate a reasonably competitive premium of £9,531.90. The terms were conveyed to our prospective client, who agreed to digest the offer and let us have his decision the following morning.

However, our puzzled motor trader telephoned the following day to confirm having been approached by Tradex, direct, with a more competitive quotation of £8,066.

Needless to say we did not secure an appointment and immediately telephoned Tradex in order to ascertain what had happened. And we obviously took the opportunity to complain at this somewhat seemingly underhand tactic.

Unfortunately, we were given short shrift and were informed that as the risk was underwritten by its office some years previously, it was entitled to approach direct and poach the account.

Needless to say tears were shed in our office. I suppose we will have to put this down to experience in the current hard market.

David R A Moore
Managing partner
David Moore & Co - Willis Network

Yes, it is just you
Steve Best's letter, headed `Is it me?' (14 February, Insurance Times) complained about service from `insurance companies'.

I am sure Steve would object if I talked in a derogatory way about insurance intermediaries. I am sure he would feel his business was individual enough not to be bracketed in a crude way with all other insurance intermediaries in the UK.

Zurich has been pre-eminent in delivering service excellence for some years now, as recognised with its catalogue of industry awards.

Our intermediaries tell us our service to both the intermediary and customer is second to none. We continuously test and benchmark our performance by intermediary and customer surveys and are rightly proud of the positive consistency of the results. We are not perfect, but when we get it wrong they say they rely on us to work hard and fast to put it right.

In the recent storm claims, we have performed well against the very high standards we set ourselves. By now you will have received our mailing on the subject:

  • claims turned around on same day

  • Repairs authorised over telephone

  • 96% of storm and flood claims for 2002 settled by mid-February.

    We believe we stand out from the crowd of insurance companies. Despite that, we are constantly seeking to improve and be innovative in the way we can best work with our intermediaries and customers.

    We have a large field force dedicated to working with our intermediaries to help them develop business with Zurich for the benefit of intermediary and customer. We are probably alone in having such a large field force dedicated to that purpose.

    Importantly, we expect insurance intermediaries to include our service excellence proposition in their best advice to customers when placing business.

    Many of our intermediaries do exactly that, of course. Perhaps, though, too often insurance intermediaries place business on the basis of price and price alone and then complain about the service from those insurance companies.

    We do not accept your criticism, Steve. We work too hard for you and your customer to be blandly bracketed with others, whom you say give you poor service. If their service is so poor - switch to Zurich Personal Insurances and enjoy the difference.

    In your article you ask: "Is it just me?" As far as Zurich is concerned, Steve, I think it must be. Perhaps you are using the wrong insurers.

    John McCheyne
    Head of business development
    Zurich Personal Insurances

    Broker qualifications
    On reading "CII and Biba in talks over new broker regulation" (14 February, Insurance Times)

    I agree the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is the relevant body for the personal qualification of brokers, but have been put on inquiry as to whether there is a hidden agenda in the British Insurance Brokers' Association's (Biba) suggestion: chartered status is "probably too high or inappropriate".

    On the contrary, I must reject out of hand any suggestion the qualification of an insurance broker can be lower than others within the industry.

    This is because of the need to be both librarian and interpreter, able to explain the complex in the vernacular, understand the small print and put the interest of clients before all other considerations without being unfair to insurers.

    This is a requirement demanding greater skill than solicitors who have protection of special pleading, something which is denied to insurance brokers.

    The logical solution is for the FSA to pick up where the Insurance Brokers Registration Council (IBRC) left off, namely those registered by the IBRC should be entitled to continue to describe themselves as brokers and those who were not should be required to attain chartered status, a case of turning barbers into surgeons.

    It follows that a fundamental requirement for the regulator is either it should itself be fully qualified or part of an overt circle of accountability which includes the CII's Society of Fellows. This represents the corporate wisdom of the industry, quite apart from the fact that if a chartered member becomes subject to disciplinary proceedings then he is entitled to be judged by his peers.

    John Lynch
    Insurance Advisory Service

    Better brokers
    Are some brokers more superior than others Are you one of the 90% of brokers made to feel like second class citizens in an industry where you have worked all your life and have generally known you have done a good job?

    Are you fed up with reading letters sent into magazines indicating how good brokers with qualifications are compared with the rest and that this should be the only yardstick by which a person is measured? Do you feel unhappy about the way your agencies are being taken away when you have tried to do the best job you can in the interest of your customer?

    By now I've probably hit a raw nerve, which for most brokers is a daily occurrence as you battle against market forces to stay in business; a sorry indictment on an uncaring industry. Let me go a bit further.

    Do you feel unhappy that a small number of self-styled elite brokers have caused the first plausible attempt to re-unify the industry to fail? Do you now have misgivings about the FSA when many of you have been so upset by the life version?

    Well I can't go on upsetting you with any more minuses so here are a few pluses. The great majority of brokers agreed with the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) as a unifying force, not just a regulator, educating members with a tough rule book that will take us all a long way to meeting FSA requirements.

    In any case I am sure the GISC will lead us all in nicely. Then for brokers with few agencies the arrival of internet networks offering the use of many extra agencies has just started, these will give you power to:

  • find routes to over 500 markets

  • obtain instant quotes in over 70% of daily activity

  • provide compliance information with each product

  • reduce your dependency on insurers with changing anti-broker strategies

  • maintain ownership of your clients

  • feel confident that that you will be equal to the larger players in competition

  • help you shape presentations on any risk to encourage insurers to quote

  • give older brokers a range of extra options and help them stay in business longer and make their life easier

  • provide online help to provide best advice.

    All you need to become more confident is to start shaping your business to follow the GISC rulebook, buy a PC and get used to visiting websites. A new exciting world beckons and surprisingly it belongs to the small local broker, the one more than 80% of customers want to deal with.

    Peter Phillipou
    Managing director
    Vanguard Insurance Services

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