Biba responds to government proposals with demand for transparency.

Travel agents that sell insurance alongside holidays are set to benefit from an unfair advantage over brokers because they will not have to provide the same degree of transparency, Biba has claimed.

The brokers’ trade body has responded to proposals for the regulation of the sale of travel insurance with holidays – something for which it has successfully campaigned. It has welcomed the majority of the proposals, but said the more relaxed transparency requirements would put consumers at risk.

The FSA, which published the proposals, has said it is in the process of relaxing transparency requirements for direct insurers as well.

In its statement, Biba said: “We believe that the consumer should be entitled to the same suite of disclosures, irrespective of where they choose to buy their insurance. Having a differential disclosure regime is likely to lead to consumer confusion and potential detriment.”

Biba was also waiting for details surrounding the amount of professional indemnity insurance travel agents will be required to have.

In its consultation paper on the regulation of travel insurance sold with holidays, published in December, the FSA said travel agents would not have to abide by the Insurance Mediation Disclosure requirements and therefore would not have to state whether products offered were from a range or limited number of insurers. Nor would they have to provide consumers with a statement on the reasons for advice given.

The consultation closed on Tuesday. The FSA will now publish its final proposals, and is due to start regulating the sale of travel insurance with holidays from 1 January 2009.

Biba had been lobbying for the regulation since 2003. Biba’s technical and corporate affairs executive Graeme Trudgill said: “It was a massively long road to get here and the good news is that the regulatory regime applied most of the things we suggested but there are areas where we think the FSA still needs to listen to Biba.”