I see John Portwood (5 December, Insurance Times) has joined the club of internet bashers - or should we call them nostalgia junkies?

I take it that Portwood is implying that motor business done through a traditional broker would be free from all the problems he has encountered in his trawl through the internet book he has taken on.

There was a time when getting a quote from a high street broker involved facing a thoroughly experienced, slightly (ever so) sceptical broker across a counter completing a paper proposal form. I have to agree, in these circumstances, very little got past the broker. He had been trained. What happens these days could just as well be on the internet for all the personal contact that is involved.

The client is either dealt with in a call-centre type environment or, if he visits the broker, his quote is delivered by a quote system. This system is usually operated by staff unprepared to challenge or vet responses, unless the machine they are using prompts a query.

Further, the machine operator will usually have no idea of how to match the top screen quote with the customer's requirements, other than on price.

In most cases now, the business is sent electronically to the insurer and any papers, including no claims discount proof, remain with the broker.

The only time the papers are seen is if there is a query at claim time, or in the unlikely event of an audit. In either case, both checks are dependent on the papers being found.

Looking at in this way, I cannot see why Portwood can single out internet business as being any more flawed than traditionally placed business. He should try doing a few more audits.

Roy Rodger

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