Colin Sutton's call for insurance to be referred to as a profession, (letters May 4) raises the question of what we mean by "profession" and "professional".

In my talk at the Biba conference last month on "Implications of True Professionalism", I looked at these concepts, and suggested that all players in the market (insurers, brokers, non independent intermediaries) can be professional in the sense of being competent and efficient.

However, I contrasted that with what I called "true professionalism". By analogy with the long established professions, and as a result of features of agency law with its emphasis on the need for independence, for professionals to put their client's interests before their own, and the illegality of secret profits, I concluded that "true professionalism" should be used more restrictively.

To illustrate this, insurers cannot be truly professional because their interests conflict with those of the policyholder and they are not independent. They would have to tell the customers the truth, which could be that they would do better to go to a competitor.

The same goes for non-independent intermediaries. However, truly independent intermediaries and brokers are candidates for being true professionals so long as they are truly independent, are transparent in all their dealings, and put their clients' interests before all others.

As I said at the BIBA conference, I believe the insurance industry (and I hope that Mr Sutton will forgive me for using that word) needs to change if true professionalism is to thrive among intermediaries.
Stuart White,
Hextall Erskine,

Misys management?
With regards to Colin Evans letter within your May 11 issue regarding Misys Financial Systems. Similarly, we were burgled last October and promptly requested replacement kit. Misys replaced this for us fairly speedily in ten days.

I later discovered the price charged to us was above the publicised price within the monthly bulletin magazine.

Naturally, I respectively suggest Colin double checks everything.

Despite many so-called technical problems, I further found my company given a 'Stop Notice' in view of our so-called overdue account. As there were discrepancies I refused to settle in respect of the overcharge that I asked to be redressed on several occasions with no satisfactory conclusion. I even requested Mr Bell responded and still no call to date.

I have been forced to make a payment on account to lift the Stop as I have a duty of care to customers and suppliers.

We were stopped in our tracks with being able to do EDI facilities due to technical problems once again. Consequently it seems that the insurance computer industry should also be regulated to reflect care to its customers.

I have now decided to charge Misys £500 for incompetence and like others, I can't wait for my contract to come to review, particularly as there are so many other players within the market place.
Ray Johnson,
Proprietor Independent Insurance Services,

Rates gripe
There has been a lot of correspondence recently regarding uneconomic or plain crazy rating. I reckon this one takes the garibaldi.

In a nutshell, thatched property £185,000 buildings, £103,000 contents, £14,000 all risks.

Holding insurers invite £826 our best alternative £730.

Instructions received to lapse as alternative cover arranged via Liverpool Victoria for £163.73 broken down as follows:

  • Buildings limit of cover £500,000 - £46.19
  • Contents limit of cover £125,000 - £57.72
  • Specified valuables £ 10,514 - £18.81
  • Unspecified p/effects £ 8,000 - £41.01

    Is there anyone who cares to better these rates?
    Andy Dearing,
    Jackson Emms & Co Ltd

    No IBRC support
    For the sake of accuracy, I feel obliged to respond to some of the inaccurate and misleading comments which have appeared in the public domain over the past week.

    I gather that the Institute of Insurance Brokers has formally registered a company limited by guarantee using the initials, IBRC.

    This action has been taken without consultation with the Council of the statutory body of the Insurance Brokers Registration Council. The assumption that the formation of this company has the Council's support and was initiated by the Council is totally incorrect.
    Alan Gavaghan,
    Chairman IBRC

    It's the principle
    Your article on "Renegade brokers spark off an official investigation..." and your leader on "Mud..." (IT May 18) raise the interesting question of who has abandoned which principle?

    I suggest the answer is to be found in the underlying question of what has happened to the UK insurance industry between 1977 – when insurance companies were exempted from the Unfair Contract Terms Act on the grounds that they had a good record of treating policy holders fairly – and 1999, when Professor Jack Mahoney in his paper on ethics in the UK insurance industry, concluded "There is a considerable degree of unease among the public about the conduct of some individual and corporate members of the insurance industry in the UK?"

    I find myself drawn to the conclusion that the best explanation lies within the parameters of the start and finish of two quotations, namely: "Power tends to corrupt.." and "..but you can't fool all of the people all the time".
    John Lynch ACII,
    Chartered Insurance Practitioner and Insurance Broker,
    Insurance Advisory Service,

    Sea of dual pricing woes
    There is continued discussion over dual pricing of general branch policies. Now it is spreading to marine policies.

    As a general broker, we approached the London Marine Centre of CGU for a cargo quotation. Its response for an annual policy was a minimum premium of £350. The client has just signed up with CGU via her bank for a premium of £200!

    I spoke to the LMC of CGU and was advised that the NatWest do not deal with the Marine Centre and it is another branch that underwrites the business. All marine quotes are logged centrally to ensure continuity of quoting except, of course, those not handled by the marine centre.

    Can anyone, preferably an insurer, advise me why a minimum premium set by the experts in their field can be ignored by the less experienced branch network? Who knows best?

    Meanwhile, we see another example of the soft market (yes it is very soft if your name is XYZ Bank plc) undermining premiums for the sake of volume.
    Ian K Mantel,
    Manor Insurance,

    Customer is king
    There's been a lot of recent talk about "hidden agendas", but some brokers' own self-centred agendas are peering through.

    The whinge from the Whitley Bay broker is an all too frequent example of having got something special yourself, then moaning when someone else gets something better.

    The letter's telling phrase is "we can no longer make money out of motorcycle". Surely customer service has replaced the concept of "making money" out of customers? And in your GISC v IBRC news item, May 18, one IIB-inspired broker puts brokers' interests before all else. We are in the age of the consumer. If brokers don't realise that, they do so at their peril.
    Pro-GISC broker,
    name & address supplied

  • Topics