John Jackson is right (3 July, Insurance Times) in emphasising the huge influence of Direct Line and latterly Churchill.

Each has been successful and profitable, plus they brought a certain fun factor to what was a dreary and complacent marketplace.

To the extent that, individually, they introduced unprecedented competition into the market, it's difficult to see that competition eroded simply by their coming together.

However, despite undoubted success at marketing, pricing and service delivery, it is perhaps disappointing that the same energy has not been devoted to product design.

Surely, we have seen the same old products churning around the insurance sector for far too long, even if now set out in admirable plain English.

Yes, there have been some extensions and a few add-ons but, fundamentally, cover selection has been unaltered over the past 50 years.

Consider motor. The only choice in the conventional market is between comprehensive and third party fire and theft on a specified vehicle basis. The statutory requirement for prescribed certificates of motor insurance is a heavy constraint. But why can't I buy my third party cover as a stand-alone and then choose a legal expenses policy with or without an accidental damage add-on?

Why should I not be permitted to choose a fixed first loss sum insured with before-the-event, credit repair or hire clauses if required?

Why can't I buy a first party compensation and rehab package to cover bodily injury to myself and/or my passengers (indemnity based, enabling my insurers to recover if someone else is responsible)?

Why annual contracts? Surely the natural criterion is period of vehicle ownership, and so on.

And how about a menu-driven composite personal insurances package with discounted premiums for multiple choice, plus opportunities for both individual and aggregate deductibles?

Within the menu would be an option to select from a suite of after-the-event incident management programmes, including preferential use of the provider's supply chain for events within the deductible, or where otherwise uninsured.

Already we are seeing some willingness to self-fund for private medical costs. With increasing rates elsewhere and threats of restriction on existing underwriting criteria, this attitude might soon extend to other risks.

Wherever one looks across the insurance spectrum, admittedly less so for commercial business, the same question must be asked. Why is the market constantly offering a one-size-fits-all solution when, increasingly we are able to identify the differing needs of customers?

Some change is detected, notably within the high net worth offerings, plus interest is stirring in parts of the affinity sector.

But who will be the first mainstream provider to break with tradition, or as previously, will it take an innovative and energetic newcomer to shake things up?

John Warran

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