Ward Evans chief apologises, but doesn't pay up

Michael Kenney chief executive of failed broker Ward Evans is sorry. Sorry enough to put pen to paper and write a letter apologising to all those affected by the demise of his company.

The letter explained that "system and processing errors" and an "overstatement of sales" were "significant contributors" to the company's collapse.

No doubt those owed money by the company will be relieved that it wasn't the directors' "excessive" lifestyle that was the cause. According to administrator Ernst & Young, Ward

Evans directors had purchased a £240,000 yacht, enjoyed the use of a London flat stocked
with champagne, and had taken helicopter trips to functions.

Creditors are still waiting in line for the money to be divided up. The lucky ones - those whose money went into Ward Evans' IBA accounts after late November 2002 - will receive all their money. Others will have a protracted wait, with the prospect of receiving less than 5p in every pound owed. For the latter, sorry may not be good enough.

Homeowners in flood-prone areas will be keeping their fingers crossed for a dry April, after a number of insurers threatened to pull flood cover in high-risk areas, such as York, Worcester and Northampton, for lack of flood defences.

The problem arose because certain high-risk areas did not meet Defra's criteria for flood defence allocation. Under the Defra scheme, an area must be awarded over 21 points to benefit - although the threshold will be lowered in future years. Points are awarded for cost benefit, the type of people at risk and environmental issues. York achieved only 5.9 points, Worcester 3.8 and Lewes
13.8, leaving hundreds of homes at risk.

The FSA received a battering over its CP160 proposal to classify SMEs as private customers. First it was the turn of the brokers to have a go. Biba, IIB and the London Market Brokers Committee (LMBC) rejected the proposal. Biba and LMBC described the move as "illogical", while the IIB said it was would "extend the boundaries of our 'nanny state' considerably". Biba and LMBC proposed, instead, to classify only unincorporated businesses as private customers.

Lloyd's also hit out at a number of the proposals in a leaked confidential document. One of its targets was the touchy subject of commission disclosure: Lloyd's argued that there should be mandatory commission disclosure on the grounds that it was "utterly unacceptable that a policyholder should be denied knowledge of the cost of his policy".

One broker said he hoped that Lloyd's would reciprocate and provide brokers with a breakdown of how the premiums were divided up between the likes of Names, advertising and entertainment.

GISC also took a swipe at the regulator, saying that the reforms proposed in CP160 fell short of good business practice. In a strongly worded letter, GISC said: "The current proposals will not only fail to drive behaviour towards good practice, but indeed are likely to impair standards already in place." It was critical of the FSA's proposed three categories of sale and of the classification of private medical insurance as "high risk".

GISC also argued that loss adjusters and claims outsourcing firms should be regulated.

But it was revealed that the FSA takes a different view. Sources said that it wants insurers to regulate loss adjusters and claims managers because it "doesn't understand the market and doesn't have the stomach or time to regulate".

Finally, proof that the claims culture is alive and well came when 20 passengers made claims for personal injury following a bus accident.

Not particularly notable, save for the fact that the bus was empty - it was out of service and the driver had not sold any tickets.