There are those who believe that if you throw enough mud some of it will stick. And, as a tactic, it should not be dismissed lightly. But that does not mean it is the best tactic all the time and throwing mud at insurers via the Office of the Fair Trading – because without the research and documentary evidence, mud is all it is – is not the best tactic.
But let's be honest here, the insurers have let it get this far. They have heard the complaints, levelled plainly enough in Insurance Times and at the Biba conference. And yet they have chosen to duck the debate, turning down offers to explain their position in public or in print.
No wonder a few brokers have got angry enough to complain to the OFT.
But an investigation by a government regulatory body is not in anyone's best interests. Just as it looked as if the insurers would sit down in public and answer the allegations made by brokers, the OFT case has landed like a the proverbial spanner in the works.
If the OFT chooses to throw out the allegations, on whatever grounds, the insurers will claim to be vindicated and will be able to rub brokers' noses in the dirt. And if the brokers win, is that really going to lead to an improvement in relationships?
It would be far better for all concerned to get together to discuss the issues in a mature and adult way. We had nearly achieved that by securing several chief executives prepared to answer brokers' questions under the stewardship of an independent chair.
The need for that is stronger now than ever. We must not be sidetracked by the OFT. The industry should sort this out itself.