Question: If insurance products are sold to retail customers over the phone or by post, but the facility exists for a face-to-face meeting, will these be regarded by the FSA as 'distance contracts' with all the inherent disclosure requirements?

Answer: To be a distance contract, a contract must be concluded under an "organised distance sales or service-provision scheme" run by the contractual provider of the service, who makes exclusive use through an intermediary of distance communication up to and including the conclusion of the contract.

So the intermediary must have put in place facilities designed to enable the customer to deal with it exclusively at a distance.

If an intermediary normally operates face-to-face and has no facilities in place enabling a retail customer to deal with it customarily by distance means, the Distance Marketing Directive will not apply. A one-off transaction effected exclusively by distance means to meet a particular contingency or emergency will not be a distance contract.

  • Gary Dixon is managing director of Compliance Solutions