Membership of MULRA does not come easy

Alison Boyle's survey of the ULR market (Private Motor Supplement, Insurance Times, August 19) provides an interesting snapshot of what is available, and those companies which have joined MULRA, the Motoring Uninsured Loss Recoveries Association.
Where I would take issue is with the assertion that the association's position is "weakened because many ULR companies are still not members". This is one of its strengths, indicating that too many ULR service providers do not match up to membership requirements, or cannot comply with the comprehensive code of conduct.
Any organisation that aims to set professional standards, and then allows its good name to be sullied by accepting the unacceptable, deserves to fail. In contrast, MULRA only allows into membership those companies which are committed to the highest ethical, operational and financial standards. Perhaps this explains why at least one company listed is being economical with the truth in claiming never to have enquired about membership. As the ABI figures quoted show, more than a third of all motor vehicles have ULR cover, and we at MULRA reckon that around half of these have cover provided by one of the 11 MULRA members.
Paul Hurley,

BIIBA should step in to fight insurer ‘poaching'
The BIIBA initiative in relation to tackling sharp practice is laudable, but perhaps it could be extended to include insurance companiesNULL
The current spate of takeovers and mergers has resulted in many agency cancellations and certain insurers (in our case Guardian) have used this as an excuse to approach the clients direct.
Guardian has happily accepted our business over the last two years but now no longer wants our account. They do, however, want the business that went through that account on a direct basis.
Instead of allowing run-off, with the policies being voluntarily replaced by us at expiry, it has cancelled our agency with immediate effect.
It has advised me that it intends writing to all our clients (its policyholders) advising them to deal directly with Guardian Insurance.
Without our introduction, it would not have access to those clients in the first place. However it still considers them to be their property. Be warned.
Paul Hudson,
Paul Hudson Insurance,

Code of conduct for wholesalers
We read with interest the editorial coverage on the front page of your August 26 edition alleging that a certain wholesale broker had approached a client directly.
We considered it only a matter of time before certain wholesale brokers were exposed in this way. And believe me there are a lot more out there who are looking over their shoulders wondering if they are next.
It may come as a surprise to you after reading the above that we are indeed a wholesale broker but perhaps one with one subtle difference. We are prepared to stand up and be counted. Having promoted ourselves actively in the marketplace over the past four years through direct mailing or insurance press advertising as a 'broker only' underwriting agency, we have always made it very clear that we simply do not write any direct business of our own and we can confidently state that there is not one supporting broker, past or present, in the UK that could accuse us of approaching their client directly with a view to securing future business.
The time has come to set up a regulatory body to oversee all wholesale brokers, working to a commonly agreed code of conduct in order that genuine "broker only" underwriting agencies do not become tarred with a different brush.
We will be one of the first to join. What will be interesting is how many will legitimately be able to follow.
Andy Todd,
ENA Underwriting
Chipping Sodbury,
South Gloucestershire.

Driving without insurance cover
I would like to refer to Andy Homer's comments referred to in your issue of August 19.
Driving without insurance is a disqualifiable offence under the road traffic act 1988 s143 but it is not automatic and can carry other penalties such as points (up to 8) endorsed on a licence and a fine of up to £5,000.
The problem is that the courts throughout the UK are not consistent in their approach due mainly to a high court case 'Regina v Callister' (1992) in which the judge made an "Obiter Dictum" statement which some courts choose to ignore and others to follow. Those who do not choose to disqualify on first offence feel that no insurance must be accompanied with other bad driving offences - i.e. they should not disqualify merely on a documentary offence. The only way of changing the law would be for Mr Homer to fund a Magistrates' Court to test the law of Callister or get the law changed in Parliament.
Malcolm Bennett JP,
Chambers and Newman,

Telephone sign-up fears
I read with interest the article on telephone sign-up in the premium finance sector entitled "Telephone sign-up may contravene Act" (Insurance Times, August 5)
In the article it was stated that the responsibility to ensure the customer completes the documentation lies solely with the provider and not the broker. This is not the case.
Providers and brokers are both responsible for ensuring that the customer completes the documentation and are equally at risk of losing their customer credit licence to trade if the terms of the act are not complied with.
Singer & Friedlander Insurance Finance believes that telephone sign-up does contravene the Consumer Credit Act. It is for these reasons that Singer & Friedlander has chosen not to offer telephone sign-up. After all we must protect ourselves, the broker and most importantly, the consumer.
Tony Worthy,
managing director,
Singer & Friedlander
Insurance Finance,
Church Street,

A question of trust
Further to your headline 'DAS slams cowboys in the ULR market', August 26 1999, and in particular the comments regarding 'direct legal advisers', the most immediate question which concerns not only assessors, but also solicitors, is why clients' compensation monies are automatically banked as a matter of course, in order to protect fee payment.
When I set up my assessing business in 1994 I questioned this and decided not to insist upon banking my clients' cheques in order to guarantee my fees, and to obtain settlement made payable to my client. I have personally handled over 1,070 claims since then and I have never once not been paid - in my experience clients are happy to pay an agreed fee if they are happy with the service they receive.
Banking clients' money is tantamount to saying 'I will not guarantee the service I will provide, but I will guarantee that you will pay me!'
I was staggered to read that some assessors charge 50% - it is not necessary for any assessor to charge more than 20% as a maximum and remain profitable. My usual fees for example are between ten and 15%, but are negotiable for large claims simply because I am not greedy. One area which I believe Mr Asplin did not mention specifically (although I know he is aware of the problem) is that of ULR Legal Expenses Schemes being operated by assessors, which are not underwritten.
It is not legal, and it should be stopped.
Tim Willcocks,
Willcocks & Co,
7 West Street,
Old Town,
TN34 3AN.