I read with interest John Portwood's letter on cybertrading (5 December, Insurance Times). Insurance e-tailing is gathering pace and with more business being sold this way, the potential for more bad press as the result of rejected claims is rising.

I totally agree that sales on the internet are more open to manipulation and false declaration by potential customers, but some problems arise because of a lack of understanding or knowledge of insurance, as well as blatant dishonesty.

One of the major issues about the cyber market is that, on a psychological level, there are always the `unreal world' emotions people experience on the internet.

In the eyes of many customers the reality that they have bought insurance from an insurance company in the real world might only come to mind when they have to make a claim. Then comes the crushing knowledge that their non-disclosed DR10 is now a very real problem.

The urge to make a saving is encouraged by advertising campaigns focusing on price above everything - some people will do anything to save £100.

The untouchable world of cyberspace is the ideal place for those people who are financially desperate to do business.

The insurance industry has a major responsibility to get the message across that buying insurance on the internet is a significant transaction with potentially far-reaching consequences and is not the same as ordering the latest Stephen King from Amazon. Disclaimers and warnings in small print at the bottom of a web page are too easily missed, or a customer may invest the small print with a degree of importance that its prominence suggests.

Unless the insurance industry addresses this issue now, the FSA's first job may be looking at the mountain of complaints that might be generated by this method of selling insurance.

Peter Hardy
A V Wilson and Sons