There is a danger of the reporting of alleged concerns regarding the payment protection insurance market getting out of proportion.
In your report "PPI complaints soar" (News 9 February) you report FOS complaints relating to PPI rising from 513 in 2001/02 to 833 in 2004/05. The increase between 2002/03 and 2004/05 (the last three years' figures available) was 803 rising to 833 - hardly "soaring".
I have specialised in the regulation of the PPI market for over 25 years and have observed the tremendous efforts which insurers and (most) distributors of the product go to ensure that a very necessary, and high quality, protection is available in relation to an economy where over-indebtedness is a major concern.
Over the past few months it seems to me that statements as to perceived concern with the PPI market, and any hard evidence of actual concern, simply do not match those of the OFT, the Public Accounts Committee, and now even the Law Commission. They are feeding off each others' perceptions, helped by timely nudges from the consumer lobby.
It is fair to exclude the FSA thematic review from these observations. The FSA is fully engaged with firms in the market, seeking to understand their perceptions and to aid an adjustment to its regulatory expectations.
Meanwhile, I would ask that the media be extremely careful to separate fact from propaganda and perception, because if the current bandwagon of criticism about PPI continues, without objective verification, the economy may lose a key protection product at just the time it may be most needed.
Head of general insurance regulation
Coffin Mew & Clover Solicitors