Brokers have reacted furiously to a clause within Norwich Union's (NU) renewal documentation that would allow the insurer giant to contact customers directly once the policy has been cancelled.

But NU claims the clause should be introduced by all insurers to protect themselves and their agents against data protection breaches.

The controversial clause can already be found in renewals of policies that NU inherited from General Accident, one of the grandparents of the new insurer-giant. And NU is now introducing it into all of its client documentation.

It means that if a broker switches his customer because he thinks NU's services or pricing is uncompetitive, then NU could, theoretically, go direct.

The clause says: “CGNU Group and its agents may use your information to keep you informed by post, telephone, email, or other means about products and services which may be of interest to you.

“Your information may also be disclosed and used for these purposes after your policy has lapsed.”

It is believed that the IIB has contacted NU expressing concerns about the clause, but no-one from the trade body was available for comment at the time of going to press.

But the wording has angered other trade body leaders. AIIB boss Michael Slack said it was “typical” of the way insurers are behaving.

“In my opinion, the customer belongs to the insurance intermediary,” said Slack. “This is more evidence of them trying to get the customer direct. It is typical. There is no clear line or respect for whose customer it is any more.

“I don't single out NU. Everybody else thinks it is fair game to do what they want once they have got a contact's address and number.”

Biba cheif executive Mike Williams expressed disappointment at the move. “I think most brokers would be much happier if this was done in a positive way, rather than on this ‘intertia' basis,” he said.

Williams said it gave Norwich Union carte blanche to approach brokers' clients.

NU said the wording was new to some CGU policies but had always been in place in its own policies.

A spokeswoman added that the insurer would “never” pass customer information to any other part of the business.

She said NU had been forced to make the changes to comply with the new data protection act that was introduced in 1998 but had a two year period of grace.