Regarding the article on jewellery fraud (Insurance Times, 8 November). TH March & Company were established in 1987 as specialist insurers to the jewellery trade and have extensive experience in insur ...

Regarding the article on jewellery fraud (Insurance Times, 8 November). TH March & Company were established in 1987 as specialist insurers to the jewellery trade and have extensive experience in insurance of both commercial and personal jewellery risks.

In my opinion, Tony LeFevre misses a major point, which could resolve most of the industry's fraud issues - the question of correctly prepared valuations.

The problem faced by the insurance industry is highlighted by Rod Townend, who states they are looking for ways to improve the technical validation pre-loss documentation and receipts of jewellery. If professionally prepared valuations were sought for all items over £500, fraud would become extremely rare.

For example, the Rolex watch cited in Tony LeFevre's article, if described showing the serial number, model number, age and condition, would be more readily identifiable than just "steel Rolex watch £1,000".

The National Association of Goldsmiths has been promoting the Registered Valuers Scheme and there are many excellent valuation services and valuations carried out by qualified jewellers.

The insurance industry does not insist on valuations at inception of cover in many cases and so leaves itself open to problems in ensuring the correct settlement in the event of a claim. The answer is in the industry's hands, but it seems reluctant to take it.
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JA Pittman ACII
TH March & Co director
Yelverton

Privacy issues
I read with interest the recent article by Kim Bullimore, "Why not outsource underwriting?"

Having been a student of data protection since 1986 this subject of outsourcing immediately raised privacy issues in my mind.

The new Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) which came into effect on March 1 2000 imposes a number of restrictions on the processing of personal data. One I think has particular bearing on the subject of this article is the relationship between the data controller, the person or organisation that determines the processing, and their data processor, the person or organisation that processes the personal data for them. For this legal relationship to exist, there has to be a contract, which is normal business practice. However for that contract to be legal in data protection terms it must also include reference to the eight data protection principles and the expectation by the data controller that the data processor will comply with that legislation. The data controller is responsible for any breaches of the DPA by the processor. Their defence could be that the processor stepped outside the data controllers data protection guidelines, but if there weren't any, how could they step outside them?

If this clause is not included in the contract when outsourcing is there the risk that at a later date everything could go horribly wrong because of a breach of data protection. Can you envisage the claimant's lawyer drawing the attention of the court to these breaches of data protection and then extending the argument that it is a breach of his client's human rights,(Article 6 - a right to a fair trial). Can you be certain that the investigator you used, your data processor, did not breach the data protection act? Did you instruct him in accordance with the Data Protection Act?

Or perhaps I am just being paranoid and it will never happen.
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Chris Brogan
via email

Premium content?
In thanking Insurance Times for their well organised and impartial Premium Content conference & exhibition with acknowledgement to Aldous Huxley's "It all depends on what you mean by...", I find myself asking: premium content, is it a question or a descriptive title? If it is a question, I suspect others will agree the answer is "no" and if it is a descriptive title then the answer is, or should be "a promise - not a pie crust".

This suggests the importance of lateral thought for all insurance professionals in an industry that Professor David Bland has described as the science of risk and in which I suspect our failure to recognise both sides of the coin has contributed to the mess exemplified by the failure of Independent Insurance and the black hole of Equitable Life.

For me, the importance of the conference was the opportunity to talk with other brokers from different parts of the country where

I found substantial support for two opinions in particular, namely that the problems of the insurance industry stem from "corporate greed" and a "gut feeling of a hidden agenda". We also discussed the Institute of Insurance Brokers' (IIB) success in calling a halt to the General Insurance Standards Council's (GISC) monopoly ambition - whether or not you agree with Andrew Paddick, he must be given full credit in foiling this particular agenda.

That said, I suggest whatever form the regulatory council of insurance brokers takes, it must be seen to be completely independent of all trade associations, because their duty is to act on behalf of their members, which includes defending them against any disciplinary charges being heard by the council, an immediate conflict of interest.

Having criticised the two opinions on the table you may well ask, what I suggest. My proposal (already in embryo form) is a certification mark registered with the Trademarks' Registry which stipulates those using the mark are independent of insurance companies and possess a local point of sale. Used in conjunction with a website directory, this can provide the best of both worlds (either face to face or via the internet).

Self-regulation can also be provided by a board of directors who are members of the Chartered Insurance Institute Society of Fellows and headed by a respected chairman, for example, someone of the calibre of David Bland whom the public can trust.

This brings me to my biggest plus of the conference, namely the IT initiative by 24 7 whose chair, Julie Rodilosso, certainly impressed me as not only having the right credentials, but as someone who has sussed out the importance of a brand to take on the direct writers.
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John Lynch
Chartered insurance practitioner and broker
Address withheld

Pleasing people
In Robin Wood's argument for not using IBRC (Insurance Times, 8 November), he says that their statement re possible conflicts of interest is negative, leading to the conclusion that their sales prospectus is "rather anaemic".

However, on page 14 of the same issue, the letter of the week, from Laurie Harding, actually staunchly backs up the Institute of Insurance Brokers' (IIB) concerns about possible conflicts. This leads to the conclusion that you can't please all the people all the time.
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David Parry
Underwriter
via email