I refer to your article "Marsh launches attack on brokers" (Insurance Times October 12). I love the arrogance of the national brokers (Willis excepted, of course) when it comes to the small medium enterprise (SME) business segment.

If Marsh is declaring war on provincial brokers, the SME segment will be the battle ground, because provincial brokers, according to our market research, control around 94% of the intermediated business in this area.

The national brokers and major UK clearing banks, together, make up the balance. To put it in perspective, Willis, through its own client connections, has about 0.5% market share in this segment.

A typical provincial broker will have virtually all of its commercial portfolio with SME businesses. They own the segment! Marsh's statement that it has 5% of the business in this segment above £1m turnover looks, on the basis of our market research, slightly suspect to me.

Marsh thinks that all they have to do is web-enable their call centre in Southampton, give it a fancy and catchy name and add a few package products and the world of small entreprises will electronically flock to their door!

I distinguish SMEs, because it is very unlikely that a medium-sized business, according to our market research, will buy direct online. They need the local manual intervention that the provincial broker provides.

Also, within the SME segment, once you have eliminated the "mini enterprise businesses" (those that fall under the VAT threshold of £57,000 turnover), only around 10% of the remaining businesses fall into commercial packages, described by Marsh as their product solution.

The major UK clearing banks have customer relationships and significant brand image in the SME segment. They have been trying to move that banking relationship and brand image into commercial insurance products for their SME customers for many years.

As I stated earlier, the national brokers and the UK clearing banks have a minimal amount of market share in the SME segment. If the banks have not been able to make inroads into this segment on the back of established relationships and brand, what makes Marsh (who has virtually no brand in the SME segment) think that they have all the answers?
--
Hugh A. Warren
Chief executive
Willis Commercial Network
Willis UK

What's all the fuss?
It has only just clicked! (I must be getting old). But I am amazed at the amount of rubbish that comes out from some insurance companies nowadays.

What has just clicked? Let me explain.

There was some furore at the broker who was, what some may call, overcharging. But think for a moment – what other industry has to survive on just about 12% gross?

So the broker made a substantial charge – so do most other industries/professions nowadays. OK you say, but compare the "alleged" overcharging with the regular and consistent dual pricing by the insurance companies of which we have daily proof coming to light. Who then shouts foul and is listened to?

I have one on my desk as I write – a policy through a broker costs £3,591 but when quoted direct is £1,800... My case rests. Was there not a saying "what is sauce for..."? We see this almost daily so what was wrong with the charge?

The working mens clubs were still surviving! What about the broker?
--
LMF Spicer
Director
Cybersure

Cat among the pigeons
Re "Independent to kill sacred cows" (Insurance Times, p13 October 5, focus on CII conference).

Some sacred cows should be kept alive as they earn their keep by producing profits. Have satellites really progressed to the stage that they can look inside buildings, inspect the adequacy and condition of fire and

security protection, have a gut feeling about the risk and do all the other vital jobs that a surveyor does?

I checked the date of this issue to see if it was April 1. Surely Andy Hawkes of Independent Insurance had his tongue firmly in his cheek.

There are copycat insurers that will take on a risk without survey just because it's held by Independent and so "must be OK".

Perhaps Andy Hawkes is simply trying to get those copycat insurers to take the idea on board so that it is they that will come to grief in the long term, not Independent!
--
David Union,
Pinnacle Insurance
West Yorkshire

We want answers
I don't wish to labour the point but you published my letter in response to Tony Cornell's article as the "Letter of the Week" (Insurance Times August 10) indicating that you must have thought it merited some attention. I regret to see that Cornell's latest article (Viewpoint October 12) does not address the issues that I had raised. I am sorry, but they were too important to dismiss out of hand.

Insurance Times supported the article and I respectfully suggest that you have a responsibility to your readers, especially the 3,500 corporate brokers who are told they are going out of business, to provide the facts supporting the article so that we can investigate these for ourselves and form our own opinions. Surely it is a simple matter of Cornell declaring his sources, for example, he referred to an un-named survey – why can't he name it?

This is not a personal matter, but the contents of the article and resulting correspondence even attracted the attention of George Nixon, chairman of British Insurance Brokers Association (letters August 24), so please Insurance Times publish the facts supporting the article as brokers need to know some answers.
--
Anthony Hall ACII
Chartered insurance practitioner and broker

Come on and do your bit
As a serving police officer I was hoping that someone might be in a position to enlighten me as to what, if anything, the motor insurance industry is doing about fraudulent insurance documents.

Since the introduction of home computers the problem of counterfeit documents, particularly motor insurance certificates, has mushroomed. Is it too hard to use a common water-marked paper or embossing tools to make the detection of forgeries much easier?

Anything that makes the production of forged documents harder would be very beneficial both to the police and the industry in general. The lost revenue alone must run into millions of pounds, but is that of any concern to the industry when those costs can be passed on to the honest motorists who pay for a proper document?

Please make it harder for the criminal and easier for the police and take some action sooner rather than later.
--
Timothy Draper
Police Sergeant 751
West Yorkshire Police

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