ABI’s MP lobbying

The ABI fully supports its member companies lobbying on issues such as flooding (“AXA lobbies MPs over flooding concerns”, News, 1 November).

We carry the collective weight of the industry in our discussions with the government, MPs and other stakeholders, and in the media.

Members can both reinforce those messages, and “tell the story” themselves.

Ministers will always listen to experience of dealing with issues on the ground; MPs know that they can raise commercial and claims issues which are inappropriate for the ABI.

That is why ABI members regularly accompany their association’s representatives to meetings with ministers and MPs, and why we have encouraged them to lobby themselves.

Nick Starling

Director of general insurance and health

ABI

Underwriting agencies

I was amused at the prediction by Chris Giles, chief executive of Giles Insurance, that the growth of consolidators “could spell the end of managing general agents” (News, 11 October).

Underwriting agencies as they always have been called – and I notice that Giles’s business is called Ink Underwriting and not Ink Managing General Agency – have traditionally done “what it says on the tin”, that is, underwriting.

If consolidators like Giles dispense with the services of businesses like Primary and Fusion, then they will find support from other brokers to undermine consolidator growth.

If underwriting agencies cannot get the income they need from brokers, many of them will go direct, as many of the insurers they represent are already doing.

I believe brokers have an important role in the market, but monopoly positions are unhealthy and are to be resisted.

Businesses like my own will find a way of doing that through increased e-commerce direct business.

Underwriting agencies ought to be independent in the interests of policyholders, broker agents and insurer capital providers.

Incestuous broker/underwriting agency relationships are not, perhaps, in the best interests of any of these parties.

There is a great difference in, say, NU Bonus on site and having your own in-house underwriting agency.

In the past, insurers doled out binders to brokers liberally and, over time, all were abused and cost insurers a lot of money,

Karl Marx said history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Perhaps the insurers supporting the Giles underwriting venture ought to reflect on that.

As a 61-year-old in the process of starting a new underwriting agency, I would like Chris Giles to know that the reports of the extinction of my business, and others like it, have been greatly exaggerated.

Tony Docherty

Managing director

Affinity Scheme Insurance

Liverpool