Nick Bateman – giving insurance a bad name

Nick Bateman – giving insurance a bad name
Your paper's blinkered support for Big Brother's bad boy broker Nick Bateman (in the August 10, 2000 issue of Insurance Times) ignores the image his perceived behaviour is giving to the whole industry. Bateman is portrayed as a scheming, untrustworthy liar, ultimately only interested in his own success and reward. Surely this cannot be an image that the insurance industry – and brokers in particular – should wish to cultivate.
The premise of utmost good faith is paramount to insurance. If the general public perceive all brokers as they do Bateman, the bond of trust is broken.
Behaviour of this sort – real or imagined – only furthers the end of direct insurers. Please consider your support carefully before everyone is tarred by the same brush.
Richard Hersant
CGU Club Elite

Freemasons still a draw
With reference to the recent letter by Peter Finn about freemasonry, I can confirm that
I personally am a freemason (Past Master Old Dunelmian Lodge 8100) and under 40 (just!).
One of our other directors is currently Provincial Prior of Durham (Knights Templar) and my late father was also of Grand Rank.
I am sure that many other freemasons will reply to Peter's letter – after all, we are not members of a secret organisation, but one that attracts many men of ‘mature age (21+), sound judgement and strict morals' – exactly what is required in our profession.
John Portwood

GISC: Wolf in sheepskin?
Congratulations. The letters page from the August 10, 2000 issue of Insurance Times addresses all my fears. I am a small long-established insurance broker and committed disciple of Andrew Paddick; therefore the antics of GISC infuriate me. I am a Welsh freemason; therefore your correspondent Peter Finn has an ally, although I am not particularly excited by sheep.
While Peter is on the subject of sheep, being a small broker and member of the IIB,
I would liken the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and their bedfellows, GISC, (remember the comparison between insurance brokers and car salesman?) with the big bad wolf. There is no doubt in my mind that the long-term aim of the ABI members is the extinction of the high street broker. Perhaps this is the final battle, and brokers should wake up to this fact by dealing with companies such as MMA and NIG, which are committed to the broker channel.
Andrew Paddick may not always be around to fight our battles. Long may he give Chris Woodburn and John Parker nightmares. Andrew Paddick stands his corner on principle. I am of the opinion that the other two may be standing theirs on a hidden agenda. Perhaps they could assure me that my fears are misplaced.
Out of principal, I refuse to become extinct.
D T Phillips
Phillips Insurance

What about consumers?
A variety of views on the regulation of insurance have been aired in the letters pages in recent weeks, and no doubt more will follow on the proposed GISC monopoly.
Since the parties involved have the best interests of customers in mind, has anyone thought to get a consumer opinion of the way things are going?
Even to us as reasonably well-informed spectators, the Ombudsman, Financial Services Authority (FSA), GISC, ABI, British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA), IIB, Association of Insurance Intermediaries & Brokers (AIIB), soon-to-be former IBRC, Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) and adjuster/assessor equivalents are a daunting list of possible targets for the referral of complaints. Still other members of the alphabet soup brigade might be suitable targets for more specialised issues, not to mention claims and complaints that predate existing arrangements.
Is this an improvement on the situation
a couple of years ago, or is it the same show using some different initials? Customers need a one-stop shop for problems. They do not need a body that will provide a list of other bodies and say “Try one of these...,” but one that will take ownership of a problem and sort it out – as per the BS8600 complaints management standard we helped draft.
Apart from rescuing the insurance profession from a position in the public popularity stakes on a par with other even older professions, one idea of this re-invention of consumer protection was to show that insurance is now less of a lottery when it comes to getting benefits paid in full and on time.
Customers relate to household name insurers and to local service providers, but – so far – I have yet to meet anyone who has ever heard of GISC, or is even very much aware of the activities of an ABI or IBRC.
As a gut reaction, I find it difficult to imagine how a body with any commercial interest, or doubt over its ownership, is going to attract confidence. In the great debate about who will eventually restore our credibility, let's not forget that we really need the customer to care who wins.
Stuart Cliffe
National Association of Bank &
Insurance Customers

GISC a bad egg all round
Grant Ellis's letter in the August 3 2000 issue of Insurance Times is like the curate's egg – good in parts. He's correct in saying that when the IBRC came into force, it was expected that it would be the only regulator for the profession. Yet he is misleading when he describes the ABI Code of conduct diluting and undermining such aspirations. It did much more; it completely destroyed the objective of the IBRC by ignoring what Mr Justice Thomas has described as the “bilateral duty of good faith”.
When so-called “independent” intermediaries are regulated by the risk carriers, I am puzzled about how they can claim to be independent. To me, this is the thin end of the wedge that led to the mess we are in today.
I am therefore opposed to the GISC not only because I believe truly independent insurance brokers – being agents of the insured for purposes other than the collection of premiums and the issuing of covernotes – should be regulated separately from insurers, but also because of the GISC's weaknesses. Among these are lack of accountability, conflict of interest, a lack of understanding of insurance and the severe curtailment of broker and consumer voices.
I would also suggest that the trend toward continental ownership in insurance plcs means that the consumer needs an independent insurance broker's advice as never before – certainly until the import of sections 18 & 72 of the Competition Act, 1998, are understood and accepted as applying to insurance, another preference of Mr Justice Thomas.
John Lynch
Insurance Advisory Service

More teeth in single body
In the August 10 2000 issue of Insurance Times, Chris Ablitt of Ablitt Insurance Management, seemed curious about details regarding The Broker Network's decision
to join the GISC. I feel obliged to reply.
Quite simply, as he may have guessed, we are supportive of a single regulator within the general insurance sector, and as a consequence of this support, we are at present processing our application to join the GISC.
In reply to his comment on Rule 42 (which seems aptly named if you have read The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy), while not perfect, it appears eminently sensible in the circumstances to provide a structure where a single non-statutory regulator is provided with some substance or teeth. What's more, as I pointed out in my original letter to Andrew Paddick, more than one regulator would detract from effective regulation. Once again, I urge the industry to rally behind a single body.
Grant Ellis ACII, Registered Insurance Broker
The Broker Network
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

NU Direct lacks courtesy
Good news on the dual pricing front – at last. I've just called Norwich Union Direct for a quote on my own policy which is due to renew on August 17. My premium via Norwich Union is £499 whereas the Norwich Union Direct wanted £477.39. Price proximity at last. I recognise that this is rare, but let's applaud even minor victories.
On the other hand, the style of questioning from Norwich Union Direct was abysmal. I was told that I had no convictions or disabilities and that I had a full UK licence – nice to know the chap knew so much about me. I was asked if I wanted cover for social use and travelling to work. “Yes,” I replied. When I later asked why I wasn't questioned about business use, the reply was that “customers normally tell us without being asked”.
As we all know, due to the introduction of the new database next year, we now have to give a long-winded speech to all prospects at the time of quote regarding sharing data with other insurers and the police. I can only assume that Norwich Union Direct are not joining this database since no comment was made by their team member.
In one other blinding omission, I was not asked my current insurer. If you call CGU Direct, they always ask, and if the reply is CGU or any derivative, they assure you that they will not offer competing terms. What a shame Norwich Union Direct does not adopt this courtesy. Who will take precedence once the two direct firms merge?
Finally – and this is the really good bit – the cost, including full RAC cover and European protection, was actually more with Norwich Union Direct than via branch. I've even gotten myself full commission. If anyone from NU Direct is reading this, the quote reference was 110344107 – just so they can verify it.
Ian K Mantel
Manor Insurance Services

Broked, not brokered!
I was depressed to see your heading over one of the letters in the 3 August 2000 issue of Insurance Times: ‘Brokering New Approach.' We often see piece deals “brokered,” which of course is very poor English. It should be “broked.” You cannot “broker” something any more than you can “baker” a loaf of bread and it is high time journalists got this basic word right. I did not expect to see it in an insurance magazine.
B G W Jamieson
Jamieson Financial Management
Bognor Regis