Royal & Sunalliance was the odd man out on a panel of leading insurers when it claimed that it was “getting service right”.

Speaking at the British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) West

Midlands Regional conference, held last week in Birmingham, Chris Brown, Royal & Sunalliance director, said: “Enterprise [an underwriting service] was an example of how service should be.”

But the rest of the panel, which included the top UK general insurers, admitted that their service levels were still below par.

Tom Doherty, director of national broker business at Norwich Union, said: “I can't remember a time when service has been better than average.”

“We have made some mistakes in trying to get the business together rapidly.”

He added the company needed to focus on its own people.

Peter Burrows, deputy managing director of Zurich Commercial, said the industry was playing catch-up. He said he didn't believe the industry had a service culture.

Ex-CII head Reg Brown, chairing the panel of insurers at the conference, agreed with Burrows.

He said the insurance industry had never had a client culture. “I do not know of any industry that treats its clients as badly as we do ours.”

And Brown described the situation in the London Market as a disgrace, with piles of unsigned policies.

Mark Cliff, director of Axa, admitted: “We did make some bad calls, particularly on personal lines claims.”

But Cliff claimed that the feed-back the company was getting indicated that things were getting better.

Maggie Litster, national director of Commercial Insurance at Groupama, said “It is often IT that lets people down.”

But Brown said he thought that investing in people was more important than investing in technology.