I read of the government's decision to appoint the FSA as the single regulator for general and mortgage business with a sense of foreboding and a feeling of inevitability. Like many, I believe this was the government's end game from the outset.
Nevertheless, the recent actions of the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) and the Institute of Insurance brokers (IIB) have, in my view, hastened this outcome.
I have to question how well we had been served by the actions of the protagonists, but this is history. That said, I believe there to be an opportunity to lay aside differences and use the two year interregnum to work to ensure the legacy for the FSA is an industry-wide, fully agreed and effective framework of regulation for general business. A framework that will require little or no alteration.
However, the spectre of the burden of a hugely bureaucratic regime will be too much for many to bear and will force more out of the industry.
It is time for all concerned to put aside their differences and work to ensure regulation assists businesses to give best advice to our customers and not one that spawns a cottage industry in form filling, box ticking and audit trails.
Members of the Eastern Alliance decided to join GISC and IBRC Mark II. The future actions of both bodies will, I suspect, determine how Eastern Alliance members and many others will decide to deal with membership. We have to see some value in maintaining our support, otherwise what is the point?
Come on chaps - set aside past differences; jointly take up the baton and work for our common good. There really is no alternative and no time to delay!
Grant Taylor ACII
Abuse and insults
Charlie Whelan in his article "Liar Liar" (6 December, Insurance Times) mentions his astonishment to learn some insurance companies feel it necessary to introduce lie detectors in order to cut down on the number of fraudulent claims. He further mentions there are many more subtle ways of getting to the truth without upsetting 90% of honest customers.
He would be even more astonished to know one of the companies involved in this enterprise reinforces its "lie detecting" by attacking medical experts under the guise of asking questions under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). But this company has adapted the rules, which were quite clearly laid down, and uses an anonymous "shadow expert" to abuse and insult experts who have been unfortunate enough to have had their reports sent to this particular insurer. The "questions" tend to consist of such vitriol, it is unsurprising that the shadow expert hides behind the name of one of the many claims handlers.
It would be interesting to use the lie detector machine to root out the chief suspect before he causes a further PR disaster for the insurance industry. Like it or not, the CPR are here to stay; the rules can be used for the purpose for which they were intended without resorting to base abuse and unprofessionalism.
Dr R Norwich,
Insurers at fault
Nearly every week these days we read of the problems insurers have in combating fraud. While there has always been fraud, the increases insurers are now experiencing are of their own making.
The high street broker knows his clients; he sees them not only in the office, but also around the town.
If a fraudulent claim is being made, the policyholder firstly has to meet or speak to the broker knowing he has to convince him the claim is genuine.
Contrast this with the direct dealing offices, which are not even sure the client exists in the first place. The direct dealers should accept there will be an element of fraud in claims and load their premiums accordingly.
Perhaps then we will see a more level market.
Alan Curtis ACII,
Five haven't left
We read with some surprise your article entitled "Five leave Brockbank" (6 December, Insurance Times) .
According to your article, Ken Slack, Lara Smallshaw and Craig Roberts "are reported to have departed suddenly". Far from departing suddenly, Ken, Lara and Craig are all still at XL Brockbank although they are no longer writing a treaty reinsurance account, which has been discontinued.
Ken Slack has been appointed underwriting manager at XL Brockbank and Lara Smallshaw will transfer to the D&O, bond and legal expenses accounts.
Craig Roberts is currently servicing the orderly run-off of the treaty account and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Craig Roberts, Ken Slack, Lara Smallshaw,
FSA - a surprise
As predicted by Insurance Times we now have the FSA to look forward to. Is it any real surprise?
Hopefully the FSA will see the light and incorporate many of the GISC rules and also adopt its codes. As these are, in the main, very workable.
I hope we will now see all trade bodies with membership in the intermediary market rally to ensure they speak with a united voice.
Ian K Mantel
Manor Insurance Services
No further response
There are a number of inaccuracies in Andrew Twambey's letter (6 December, Insurance Times), not least the suggestion that the petition for leave to appeal to the House of Lords in Callery v Gray is mischievous.
As the House of Lords has now granted provisional leave to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any further response.
While the benefits of belonging to a network are quite apparent to smaller intermediaries (Insurance Times "Linking Up"), our experience shows that large brokers are not impervious to hardening market conditions and increasing demands on the business.
Certainly over the past few months we have seen an unprecedented level of inquiries from brokers with GWPs in excess of £5million and these businesses now account for an increasing percentage of the overall Broker Network membership and it continues to grow.
Although these brokers generally enjoyed good relations with a number of carriers, top-level facilities with the carriers and access to the wider market was by no means assured. As the industry continues to consolidate, speaking with a loud voice doesn't guarantee that anyone is listening. As one of our most recent members put it: "Insurers are already displaying a `take it or leave it' approach to brokers who, until relatively recently, were being wooed as partners for life".
Membership of the network is the fast track to improved insurer relations and choice of carriers who remain focused on building partnerships. And then there's the question of training, GISC compliance, IT platforms, marketing ... The list goes on and it's unreasonable to expect most brokers to have these resources in-house which is why outsourcing to a network is becoming a very attractive and cost-effective option for these larger brokers.
Networks were first set up to support smaller brokers - but in today's climate, size doesn't matter.
The Broker Network