The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is putting pressure on the insurance industry to establish a set of service standards in order to improve service to customers.

As part of its investigation into why premiums in the classes of public, product, professional and employers' liability insurance have increased, the OFT has been looking at the level of service the industry offers its customers.

It is understood that as a result of customer complaints, the OFT is particularly concerned about ensuring renewal notices are issued in enough time for policyholders to either budget for premium increases or seek alternative cover.

An ABI spokesman confirmed it has spoken to the OFT about service standards. "We're talking to the OFT about a whole range of things and one of those is improving service to policyholders," the spokesman said. "Its something we need to look at and we are looking at it."

In March, the ABI sought a meeting with Biba to discuss service, after Biba proposed a set of joint insurer-broker service standards and began working with its partner insurers to design the standards.

The OFT confirmed service standards was one of the areas it was examining. "It is quite possible that one would look at codes of practice when looking at how the market operates," a spokeswoman said.

She said that in order to fully understand the problems with liability insurance, a wider look at the insurance industry was necessary.

"We need to understand the operation of markets before making recommendations about them," the spokeswoman said.

The OFT's review sits alongside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) review into employers' liability insurance.

The DWP was originally expected to report its findings earlier this week, but an announcement of its findings has subsequently been delayed to late spring, according to a DWP spokesman.