The release of the long-awaited Biba/ABI service standards - which will only apply to employers' and public liability insurance - has been greeted with dismay.
Biba board member and chief executive of broker Berry Birch and Noble, Paul Harrison said the standards were disappointing. "They've created a two-tier system; if you've got a commercial property policy you go through the slow lane, but if you've got a liability risk you get fast tracked. How do we explain that to customers?"
The key points include: insurers should notify brokers about the information required for renewal at least 40 days before renewal; brokers should provide the information to insurers at least 30 days before renewal; insurers should notify brokers of renewal terms at least 21 days before renewal; in the event of non-renewal, brokers must be notified at least 21 days before expiry and, if not, cover will be extended for up to 21 days; and the standards apply to risks renewed on or after 1 November.
While the standards are unenforceable, they address the Office of Fair Trading and Department for Work and Pensions' concerns about liability renewals. But Biba's original proposals, which had been approved by its partner insurers, also addressed the promptness of claims settlement, documentation and response times. Biba had planned to publish information about adherence to the standards, but an ABI spokesman said there are "no formal plans" to monitor adherence.
The FSA it is still considering its position on renewal terms and, in CP187, asks whether 21 days notification of renewal terms should be mandatory for all commercial policies.