How long is it since the first story about large insurance companies abusing small brokers, not appearing to understand - or care - about the ethics and legalities of business? Brokers could see years of hard work destroyed by companies' cynical decision to solicit all their business directly (as a result of administrative oversight, of course). Unless brokers actually do something about it, this kind of thing is certain to continue.

Clearly such insurers only respond to muscle, so either all the small brokers should immediately sell to the big ones or they should find another method of using their collective power against these obnoxious "trading partners". One idea being considered in the context of the current Lloyd's distribution plans - quaintly labelled "Developing Broker Relationships" - is a mutual legal defence fund. This would mean that an attack by one is an attack on all, and the legal costs of redress would therefore be shouldered by all. I am sure there is leadership in the UK broking community which could give life to this fairly simple remedy, and then perhaps no insurer would decide to attack more than once.
Graham McKean
BMS Group

Adding insult to injury claims
There is a growing problem that many insurers are cancelling their agencies, which is having an adverse effect on small intermediaries and small brokers. Insurance companies are putting loadings in many city areas, and which is increasing premiums in certain areas. But when the same client goes to another area and gets a quotation, the loading is not applied and the local intermediary loses the business.

Previously it was theft that increased the premiums, and insurance companies have brought the premiums of third party fire and theft much closer in price to the comprehensive premiums. As a result the businesses were improving. Now, we are living in an era of increasing personal injury claims, which is causing a lot of funds to be drained from insurance companies. Major injuries were rare in past accidents, but now every case is approached by legal firms for a whiplash or other minor injury claim.

To reduce claims, I suggest that in motor insurance it should be only third party or comprehensive insurance and no third party fire and theft. And to reduce the number of injury claims, accidents should be dealt with by a panel of medical doctors appointed by insurance companies. Everybody in the insurance industry should raise their voices for the benefits of insurance companies - to save their own livelihoods.
Swarn Singh
Villa Insurance Service

Having a crow about Crowe
Publicity announcing new Crowe Insurance Group ventures is always welcome, but last week's article "Job Boost for Crowe Staff" contained inaccurate information.

To set the record straight, Crowe's Belfast-based claims and liability team was, and remains, employed by the group's Lloyd's service company, and therefore not directly by Syndicate 1204. The decision to refocus this former liability syndicate to writing professional indemnity business changed the source of the team's work, but it did not threaten their jobs.

However, Northern Irish brokers have greeted the news of Crowe's joining forces with Charrington's very favourably. We look forward to working with them for many years.
Jack McIlduff
Head of sales & marketing
Crowe Insurance Group

Travel trouble for ABTA
I read with interest the article "Travel agents could stop offering cover" in the January 20 edition.

Is Mr Monk of ABTA stating that the "refund" scheme that they operate will pay for errors, omissions etc. How might this scheme deal with the situation of a seriously injured person in the USA who finds their travel policy is invalid because of an error?

Surely it is the height of irresponsibility to advise on insurance without professional indemnity insurance.
Dave Hill
Managing director
153 Hatfield Road
St Albans
Hertfordshire AL1 4LD

ABTA's Mike Monk responds
I was not suggesting that our members should have no cover at all. In fact our tour operator members are already required to have adequate cover. But a million pound minimum for agents is excessive. Insurers should provide more training and take responsibility for their agents.
Mike Monk