I was very interested to read Bob Scott's article on "Injecting some youth into the CII", especially the comment "We need a generation of 20 and 30-year-olds who are enthusiastic about their profession and really want to put something back in".
While senior executives may be very supportive of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), this does not seem to permeate down to branch manager level.
I have been a council member at my local insurance institute (Luton & St Albans) for almost ten years and have served two terms as president. I am now 32 and was elected to the council of the CII last year.
When I qualified as an ACII, my old employer, GA, was not really that interested in supporting my local CII involvement, although I remember Bob Scott signing a nice congratulatory letter.
In the Luton area we have two insurers of significant size and, apart from one individual in one of these companies, the support we receive is only for the annual dinner. There are senior qualified people within both organisations who are never seen and who do not encourage others to support a vibrant organisation that offers a stimulating programme of educational talks and social events. I hope, however, they will seize the new initiatives being offered by the CII and really push what it and their local institute has to offer.
Local institutes will die if individuals within these areas are not enthusiastic or do not give something back. People will study for years to get their ACII and then what? The CII has changed dramatically over the past 12 months and stands ready to meet the demands of members and their employers by offering world-class qualifications and education.
Young people can get involved at all levels and, as Scott says, "young managers of the future have a way of influencing the way their profession develops... where future leaders play a full part in moving the CII forward, building on its rich heritage". Life-long learning is here to stay, either through continuing professional development (CPD) or regulatory requirements.
The message must be cascaded down from on high - young people are not inspired if not led by committed and enthusiastic individuals. If their managers cannot lead by example, let them step aside, allowing others to promote the power of professionalism. Otherwise, do what I did - get stuck in. You'll enjoy it.
Back to basic principles
I see the recent Competition Commission Appeal Tribunal (CCAT) judgment involving the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) and others has brought about some discussion, both public and private.
I would echo Robin Foster-Taylor's point (Letters, 25 October) that all interested parties should read the judgment before coming to any conclusions.
The tribunal is highly critical, if not damning, of the director general of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). This is largely because he sidestepped a raft of issues, including that of lower standards of regulation in the GISC, as being irrelevant in coming to his conclusion as to whether there had been a chapter one prohibition and a section 2(1)(b) breach of the Competition Act 1998.
It seems to me there is an inherent conflict of interest, borne by the different number of constituencies proposed within the GISC. The body has been, in effect, created by insurers and essentially seeks to exercise regulatory and disciplinary power over their customers (the intermediaries). To complicate matters further, insurers compete with intermediaries by selling insurance direct. In some sectors, insurers may have a substantial interest in gaining market share at the expense of independent intermediaries. We all appreciate brokers have an overriding interest in preserving their independence from insurers, since the essence of their service is that of impartial advice. The tribunal concluded the broking sector had a competitive need to differentiate and even to distance itself from other GISC members.
On competition, there are two points worth making. Rule F42 seeks to inhibit an intermediary's ability to trade if it is unprepared to join the GISC. The second point was finding Rule F42 as anti-competitive, as it had directly caused the collapse of the proposed alternative regulator, Insurance Brokers Regulatory Council (IBRC) MkII.
It was not lost on the tribunal that Rule F34 of the GISC prevents a member from resigning from the regulator unless any outstanding general insurance activities "re properly completed" or responsibility for compliance with the GISC Rules is accepted by another member. "Properly completed" is not clearly defined, but it follows that, however onerous the GISC Rules were to be, the intermediary would have no practical means of escape once it had been compelled by Rule F42 to join. I quote from the judgment at paragraph 234 "however high the GISC fees were to become, however inappropriate were to be the standards it develops, or however inefficiently it were to conduct its business, the option of leaving to join an alternative regulatory scheme is not in practise open".
I write as a professional intermediary and ex-IBRC councillor, who has no fear of high regulatory standards. The treasury, when disbanding the IBRC, indicated it would be happy to deal with more than one regulator in the general insurance area.
I urge every intermediary to read the judgment and get back to basic principles and not continue to be carried away on a tide of apathy on what appears to be a flawed concept. As with many firms, we are members of the GISC by default. We intend to support the IIBRC going forward.
Group managing director
Smart & Cook
In these times, when insurance companies seem to receive almost daily criticism with regards to their customer service and, in particular, their claims service, I felt it only fair to write about some exemplary service that we have received from Fortis Insurance.
We submitted two travel insurance claims for the same client following the death of her spouse on 16 October, together with the relevant supporting documentation.
Without the need for any further correspondence, two cheques were received in full settlement on 20 October. On behalf of our client, we would just like to say: well done.
KJ Herbert Insurance Services
I was surprised to read Catherine Nicholl was having difficulty in recruiting regional brokers to join the GISC board. No doubt the GISC has prepared a detailed job specification for the role and clearly all candidates will be rigorously tested against this.
In view of the lack of volunteers, it is likely that the successful candidate will require training to enable them to fulfil the requirements of the job specification; obviously during this period of training they will require one-to-one supervision. Thorough written records will need to be kept of the training at all stages. On completion of the training, our board member will need to be supervised in their work, either by periodic mystery shopper exercises or by tested live performance, again all recorded in writing. This of course will be in addition to regular formal assessments and any additional training required following either the supervision or the assessments.
In such an important role, continuing professional development (CPD) will be vital and written records will need to be kept. To make sure all this is done correctly, perhaps an external monitor could be appointed, maybe a chartered surveyor - they don't know much about insurance, but are good with complex structures, or perhaps an accountant could do it?
Despite all these requirements, I am sure Ms Nicholl will find many volunteers among the ranks of the ex-Association of Britist Insurers (ABI) coders. After all, it sounds a lot easier than trying to jump through PricewaterhouseCoopers' hoops following a GISC compliance visit.
Chartered insurance broker
Doctor Who in hiding?
A commercial client made a claim under a group travel policy for an employee who had medical treatment in Switzerland in 1998. Further treatment was required two years later and a bill was submitted to insurers totalling SFr219.50.
The insurer advised us the later treatment was not covered and we advised our client. In the meantime, the insurer wrote to "Doctor Bertrand Le Coultre", in Switzer-land, enclosing a cheque. However, the cheque had been made payable to "Monsieur Le Docteur". Do we have a Doctor Who fan in our midst? If someone can track down the Tardis, maybe Tom Baker will be able to bank the cheque.
Which insurer do you think managed to decline a claim, issue a cheque in settlement (without a row from the broker), send the cheque to the correct person, and make it payable to "the doctor"? Answers on a postcard please...
EP Ward Insurance Brokers