Standards – anything but

December 31, 2015

The few sad devotees of our annual survey of insurance industry standards may have suffered some minor withdrawal symptoms this year, the rest of you probably didn’t even notice. We collected all the data as usual but the results merely mirrored the findings of the previous 8 years and, quite frankly, were becoming boring.

Speed and accuracy of document issue is still pretty useless (more than a third of policy documents contain errors that could affect cover), service from brokers still not as good as it could be and technical standards often found wanting. There you are – that’s in place of the usual 6 page report. We’d hoped our annual surveys would provide an incentive to raise industry standards  – there go the flying pigs – but we’ve decided we can find better use for our time. So, RIP industry standards survey but we will still quote our findings until someone proves otherwise.

The FCA seem keen to encourage a standard approach to the issue of renewal notices in the personal insurance sector. They are “consulting” as we speak regarding the inclusion of last year’s premium on this year’s renewal invitation. This is probably the only piece of information useful to the customer, yet missing from the two dozen pages sent out at renewal time. In fairness, many brokers have been including this in their own renewal letters for years but good news for the customer if this has to be implemented as standard.

The Government are also playing a bit of catch up following the passing of the Insurance Act which comes into effect next August. The Enterprise Bill is an attempt to plug the hole which enabled the Insurance Act to get through and deals with the payment of claims “within a reasonable time”. No standard time limits here, but a 1 year limit is being considered – from the date of the outcome of the claim, not the claim itself. Thanks a lot!

Interestingly, AIRMIC (Association of Insurance & Risk Managers) are joining with the Chartered Quality Institute to run a symposium in February on “Voluntary Standards and the Insurance Industry” explained with the snappy  question ” why aren’t quality accreditations given direct recognition by insurers in the form of premium reductions and enhanced cover?”. OK, quite logical and you have to start somewhere but we think we could probably save everybody the time, money and effort – vested interests.

An industry standard for claims payments – advantageous to the customer rather than the insurer – would be quite useful for the poor residents and businesses of Cumbria and elsewhere flooded out as this item is posted. Insurers expect to pay out anything between £3bn-£5bn but how quickly and how much less once adjusters have gone through the small print? Next year’s renewal invitation – if there is one – will make interesting reading. Never mind, “Flood Re” will eventually ride to the rescue (???)

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