7/19/2011

The response by the Chartered Insurance Institute to HM Treasury’s Consultation on Regulating Insurance Mediation

1. Introduction

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is the largest professional and educational organisation in the global insurance and financial services sector.

This paper sets out the CII’s views in response to HM Treasury’s Consultation Document on Regulating Insurance Mediation.

Introduction to the CII

· 66,500 members

· Represented in over 120 countries

· Affiliated with over 60 institutes worldwide

· In 2002 ran 100,000 examinations

· 70 examination centres in the UK and over 100 examination centres overseas.

Information about the CII and its financial services arm SOFA (the Society of Financial Advisers) is set out in Appendix 1.

As well as examinations, the CII is committed to maintaining and enhancing the competence of its members, backed by its work on ethics and a well-established disciplinary system.

The CII has recently launched the UK’s first electronic total education system for insurance and financial services called ed. We believe that this is of particular importance to what the FSA is consulting on, as it is a cost-effective and easily deliverable solution to life-long learning. Further information on ed. is detailed in Appendix 2.


Summary of the CII's response to HM Treasury’s Regulating Insurance Mediation Consultation Document

Overview of the issues:

The CII believes that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in the insurance sector that lead to poor image, and more importantly customers being disadvantaged at point of sale or even worse at point of claim:

· Inadequate product knowledge and advice in the direct sales environmenthigh street and retail outlets

· Unregulated environment for certain classes of insurance

· Concentration on sales process with little regard for administration and claims management

· Poor level of consumer knowledge regarding the heterogeneous nature nature of insurance

Proposed solution:

The CII believes that, from October 2004, insurance mediation should adopt a tiered approach to the provision and administration of insurance products.

We also believe that all insurance products should be included within this regime, such that consumers can be confident that they are receiving a minimum threshold of technical knowledge and advice when purchasing any form of insurance.

The introduction of a simple badging of qualification in the general insurance market would also support the FSA's objectives for consumer protection, education and trust in financial services. It would also underpin the FSA's objective to maintain market confidence.

(This is set out in Figure 1 over the page)

Core consideration to determine how insurance should be regulated

In determining how contracts of insurance should be regulated, the CII believes that a core consideration should be applied regardless of the originator or distributor of that insurance.

· regulation should depend on the relative risk and value to consumers



Core consideration to determine how insurance should be regulated Cont/...

In addition to the regulation of all types of insurance by the FSA, the CII believes that certain core principles should apply to all insurance transactions regardless of the originator or distributor of that insurance. The core principles are:

  1. consumer protection should be consistent

  1. regulation, training and competence should apply regardless of whether a product is sold on a stand alone basis or part of a package

  1. all persons involved in a role that could have a direct financial impact on the customer (taking in to account the nature of the business being transacted) should be able to demonstrate a minimum level of ctraining and competence.

We envisage, for example, that this would include:

    • Sales advisorspeople (including high street shop assistants)

· Advisors (including telesales)

    • Claims handlers
    • Underwriters
    • Loss assessors
    • Third party administrators

  1. training and competence should be proportionate and consistent

  1. Ttraining and competence needs to be demonstrated through an appropriate examination and qualification regime of assessment and qualifications

  1. regulation should be centralised and not devolved to any self regulated body

Immediate implications to our current regime

Application of our core consideration and core principle would mean that certain types/sales of insurance willwhich currently fall outside regulation would need to be regulated. Specifically:

· Travel insurance sales, particularly package travel insurance sales

· All warranty insurance sales

· Payment protection insurance

Proposed future framework for training and competence

In order to ensure an appropriate level of consumer protection without affecting the cost to the buyer we believe that three categories of competencecategories of insurance intermediary should be introduced.

Intermediary

Insurer

Others

(eg Third Party Administrators)

Chartered Insurance Broker

Chartered Insurer

Chartered Insurance Practitioner

Qualified Insurance Intermediary

Qualified Insurer

Qualified Insurance Practitioner

Competent Sales Person

Competent Insurer

Competent Insurance Practitioner

Chartered iInsurance bBroker / iInsurer / iInsurance pPractitioner

This individual will hold a Chartered title (eg Chartered Insurance Broker), be professionally qualified and be subject to the additional training, competence, ethical and disciplinary requirements of their professional body.

We would envisage this qualification being limited to the highest echelons of the insurance industry. Typically, a Chartered Insurance bBroker would be best placed to handlehandling complex commercial contracts, possibly nationally or internationally.

Qualified iIntermediary / iInsurer / pPractitioner

At the next level will be the qualified intermediary. This individual will also have studied for a professional qualification and will differentiate themselves from the competent sales person by the examinations that they have passed and also by voluntarily taking on the training and competence requirements laid down by their professional body. We would envisage here the individual would hold a designatory title such as Diploma (DipCII) designation to assist in recognition by the public.

By way of example, training and competence would be appropriate for those staff in high street intermediaries who handle small commercial and personal lines business.

Competent Sales Personintermediary / iInsurer / pPractitioner

The competent intermediarysales person will be someone who has met the FSA’s basic requirements for the job that they are doing. This group will also include individuals who will go on to study for the higher levels of intermediary qualification.

We would envisage that sales advisers in call centres, travel agents and sellers of personal products such as high street retailers would follow the competent intermediary route. We would envisage here that the individual would work towards a recognised professional insurance qualificationcertificate included in the National Qualifications Framework and would receive an appropriate designation.on completion of a recognised professional insurance qualification would be awarded a designatory title such as CertCII.

The introduction CII believesof full statutory regulation of insurance intermediation from October 2004 will, the CII believes, help formalise the intermediation structure and help boost public confidence in it.

The introduction of a simple badging of qualification in the general insurance market would also support the FSA's objectives for consumer protection, education and trust in financial services. It would also underpin the FSA's objective to maintain market confidence.

Commitment to Training and Competence Works

A clear demonstration of this approach working in practice was witnessed when Lloyd’s tackled the problems it had in the 1990s by requiring was to require new underwriters to hold an ACII (Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute) qualification or equivalent. This helped both to raise standards in the market aand to help rebuild confidence in the Lloyd’s market.



Detailed responses

Our detailed responses to the Consultation Document are set out below. We have adopted the order set out in Annex A – Summary of Issues for Feedback (The issues detailed by HM Treasury are shown in italics, with our response in normal type.)

What contracts of insurance will be regulated?

1. The Government is seeking views on the scale of any problem with the sale of travel insurance sold as part of a package and on the proposed options. In particular, views are sought on:

  • the factors to be taken into account in determining the nature and extent of regulation, including supporting evidence;

Core consideration to determine how insurance should be regulated

· regulation should depend on the relative risk and value to consumers

In addition to the regulation of all types of insurance by the FSA, the CII believes that certain core principles should apply to all insurance transactions regardless of the originator or distributor of that insurance. The core principles are:

· consumer protection should be consistent

· regulation, training and competence should apply regardless of whether a product is sold on a stand-alone basis or part of a package

· all persons involved in a role that could have a direct financial impact on the customer (taking in to account the nature of the business being transacted) should be able to demonstrate a minimum level of training and ccompetence.

We envisage, for example, that this would include:

    • Sales advisorspeople (including high street sales people)

· Advisors (including telesales)

    • Claims handlers
    • Underwriters
    • Loss assessors

· Third party administrators

· training and competence should be proportionate and consistent

· regulation should be centralised and not devolved to any self regulated body

  • the scale and nature of consumer detriment in relation to travel insurance sold as part of a package;

The exact number of complaints that specifically relate to policies sold as part of a package is unknown. However, it is fair to conclude that they represent a considerable number, as travel insurance is among the top 10 subjects for complaint received by the Financial Ombudsman (Source: Financial Ombudsman Service annual report 2001/2002).

Our concern is that sales persons may often be pressured into selling insurance within a package on terms that are significantly worse than could be obtained on the open market. At the same time, consumers may be disinclined to shop around because, relative to their total spend, the cost of insurance is perceived to be 'incidental', in the same way as, for example, airport taxes.

We are not advocating that the sale of insurance be restricted to certain types of distributor - apart from anything else, this would be impractical given the size and nature of the market. What is more, travel insurance is often sold as part of a package with other insurance products such as life insurance or private medical insurance, and there would be added complexity if mandatory regulation were brought in.

What is crucial is that there should be differentiation between the codes and rules adopted by Designated Professional Bodies (DPBs) and those adopted by trade bodies. We are comfortable with the former, but we believe that the public interest is jeopardised by the potential conflicts of interest inherent in the codes of trade bodies, especially within a statutory regulation framework.

  • which of the three options outlined in Para 2.4. is most appropriate in terms of balancing consumer protection against industry costs and competition;

The most appropriate option, in our view, is the second option (FSA regulation). Intellectually, it is difficult to argue for travel insurance to be regarded as fundamentally ‘different’ to all other types of insurance. If such an argument is accepted, then should it not apply to many other types of insurance where the risk of possible consumer detriment is low e.g. life assurance?

No statutory regulation is a poor option because it would leave consumers with less protection in an area where claims, if they occur, can be very significant both in financial terms and practically.

Industry specific regulation would be divisive, create a dangerous precedent and potentially confuse the consumer.

  • any other relevant considerations;

A further issue is that, if industry specific regulation were to be adopted, how far should the term ‘travel insurance’ be defined? For example if a typical travel insurance policy included say £10,000 of personal accident benefits, but a particular travel agent sold a higher cost policy with £100,000 of personal accident benefits should that still just be covered by the ABTA Code? If the accidental death benefit applied all year round, not just while the individual was abroad and other benefits were added, so that in effect the travel insurance became only a small part of the insurance ‘package’, would the ABTA Code be sufficient then? If not, at what precise point would the situation change?

The danger of allowing regulatory arbitrage is one that could become a significant issue if industry specific regulation were to be accepted for travel insurance. An insurance contract is an insurance contract and there should not be exceptions in its regulation.

  • whether there are any other options that should be considered? (Para 2.10)

No. For simplicity and consumer and industry confidence the regulation should rest with the FSA.

2. Should all motor warranties which are contracts of insurance be subject to regulation by the FSA or only those costing more than €500 Euros (about £300) per annum? (Para 2.15.)

Yes. For the same reasons that all travel insurance should be regulated by the FSA.

3. Are there other factors which the Government should take into account in considering regulation of extended warranties on domestic appliances or other goods? (Para 2.17.)

To apply an arbitrary limit would cause problems where the relationship between the Pound and the Euro changed, would be confusing to consumers and could encourage disreputable firms to offer products at a price just under the exemption threshold so as to avoid regulation.

The regulation should take into account the need for appropriate training and competence which would include ensuring those advising or selling insurance products are competent to do so.

Which activities will be regulated?

4. . Are there other activities in relation to work preparatory to the conclusion of contracts of insurance that should be regulated? (Para 3.7.)

The issue is whether the consumer is given information or advice. In general, information need not be regulated (under insurance mediation rules). However, we believe that advice always should be. Clear guidelines on training and competence in the General Insurance market would help clarify this and raise standards.

5. Do you agree that claims handling by intermediaries on behalf of insurance companies, expert appraisal and loss adjusting should not be subject to direct FSA regulation? If not, do you have evidence of consumer detriment that would warrant such regulation? (Para 3.13.)

A claim is the single most important example of performance under a policy of insurance. Therefore, firms should apply the highest standards on claims and it is sound business sense for them to do so. For example, an insurer should ensure that all its claims supervisors and overseers have an appropriate qualification, such as the CII’s Associateship.an appropriate training and competence regime is in place and that relevant qualifications are held by those in supervisory or overseeing roles.

All claims handlers should be competent, remain competent and be appropriately supervised. Insurers and claims handling organisations including third party administrators need to have systems in place to ensure that happens and for competence to be evidenced. The CII has led the financial services industry in the development of its electronic total education system which provides a cost effective solution to maintaining the competence of claims handlers. Again, we would see appropriately awarded qualifications and designations helping the public understand the competence and level of person they are dealing with in the industry.

Anyone or any firm that provides a service to a claimant that may involve giving advice to that claimant should be regulated. That would include loss assessors, for example and third party administrators. If, for example, third party administration were to fall outside regulation then insurers may move towards using such services purely to avoid regulation. That would not be in consumers’ best interests. It is important to note too, that even where a third party administration service is used, the principal (the insurer) is still responsible for all actions of the third party. We believe that it would be useful for the FSA to remind firms of this responsibility.

In the event of a disputed claim, any individual or firm that advises a claimant should be regulated by the FSA. This would include lawyers, perhaps regulated by their designated professional body rather than by the FSA itself.

6. Do you agree that the financial promotion regime should not apply to promotions of general insurance mediation activities? Is there sufficient consumer detriment to justify bringing insurance mediation activities into the Financial Promotion Order with the broad Part V exemptions applying? (Para 3.25.)

Consumers should understand whether an intermediary is professionally qualified, their status and what products and services they offer. We note that the FSA’s position is to allow consumers to ask for commission details. This obviates the need to require commission to be disclosed.

7. Should the exclusion for information provided on an incidental basis in the context of another professional activity apply to 'qualifying contracts' of long-term insurance? Would this be likely to cause significant consumer detriment and if so, how? (Para 3.27.)

We think that this issue should be subject to further public consultation.

8. Should the regulatory regime be extended to mediation activities in relation to rights to and interest in, all contracts of insurance? (Para 3.29.)

Yes. To prevent consumer detriment from arising in situations where policies are sold on (for whatever reason) the regulatory regime should be extended to mediation activities in relation to rights to and interest in, all contracts of insurance.

Who will be regulated and how?

9.9. Do you agree that the appointed representative’s regime should be extended to insurance mediation activities? Would this cause significant consumer detriment and if so, how? (Para 4.7.)

Yes. Appointed representatives should be subject to an appropriate training and competence regime. This could be delivered through the CII’s e-learning ed. system and the availability of appropriate and publically recognised levels of qualificationsAnnex 2.

10.10. Should the provision of information exclusion also cover advice? Would this cause significant consumer detriment? (Para 4.10.)

We agree with the Government’s view on this. Anyone giving advice on insurance should be regulated.

11.11. Do you agree that the FSMA Part XX regime for Designated Professional Bodies should apply to insurance mediation activities? Would this cause significant consumer detriment and if so, how? (Para 4.11.)

We believe that the key issues are:

- there should be a level playing field. Regulatory standards should not be compromised just because an individual is a part-time, rather than full time, insurance salesperson. An analogy may be drawn with surgeons. It would not be prudent to apply the test of a lower standard of care where a surgeon did not hold a full time NHS contract for example.

One exception might be where a professional person is providing advice to a claimant on a disputed insurance claim. Here, it may be most efficient, in practical terms, for the professional person to be regulated by a designated professional body. This is because the professional person does not derive any direct income from the sale of a policy of insurance. Where, however, they do derive an income, FSA regulation should apply. In practice, regulatory authority could be delegated by the FSA, but it should apply on exactly the same terms as the FSA would itself apply directly.

- competence. This issue may best be addressed in the FSA’s consultation process regarding training and competence generally.

-

12.12. Do you agree that the limitations that currently apply to the advice that a professional can give under Part XX in relation to long term contracts of insurance should not apply to advice given in relation to general insurance? (Para 4.12.)

Yes. This is acceptable because existing designated professional bodies have strict professional and ethical codes. On those grounds only, is this acceptable. We are concerned that, in other situations, consumer detriment could arise, especially as the term ‘general insurance’ could extend to a range of currently unregulated products which are not themselves general insurance, e.g. long term care insurance.

What will the requirements of regulation be?

13. Do you agree that the notification requirements for the controller's regime for general insurance intermediaries should be streamlined as outlined in Para 5.14. above? Would this cause significant consumer detriment and if so, how? (Para 5.14.)

We agree, so long as supplementary activities do not become the major element of an individual’s or firm’s business.

Regulatory Impact Assessment

14.14. The Government would welcome views on the assumptions made in the Regulatory Impact Assessment. It would be helpful to receive views on both the costs and benefits to businesses and consumers of the proposed regulation. We would particularly like to receive views on the likely impact on the small firms that will be covered by FSA regulation of general insurance mediation.

We would draw attention to the work of the National Consumer Council on consumer impact assessments. The CII is a professional body rather than a trade association and has a unique membership base. We would be happy to work with the FSA to source the views of our practising members on the issues raised.


4. Other comments on the Consultation Document

The CII believes that to achieve the desired aims of regulation, it is important for the regulator to apply the overriding principle of having a level playing field. In addition, we believe it is important, both for consumers and for the long term viability of the insurance industry, for standards to be raised. We also believe a suitable training and competence regime should be applied across insurance based on a blend of qualification and assessment, and the awarding of easily identifiable and 'trusted' badges/designations that are recognised by the consumer.

A key issue to be addressed is that insurance products are marketed and sold through a wide range of distribution channels with many products sold by individuals and firms for whom the selling of insurance is subsidiary to their main business. There are concerns that regulation should not be so onerous as to effectively stop insurance being sold through such channels. However, whilst we would agree with these concerns, the regulatory requirements should not apply in such as way as to reward the lowest common denominator at the expense of consumer protection.

There is no fundamental conflict in these ideals and we believe strongly that all these aims are achievable through a blend of qualifications or assessment relevant to the risk for consumer detriment in order to produce better informed and competent advisers to the public.

The CII sees its role as protecting the public by guiding the profession and, working with various partners, we have developed an industry wide process that adopts modern technology to deliver the solutions that make these ideals possible.

The Internet is the medium which makes this possible and the CII’s ed. system is the mechanism that can deliver it. ed. has been developed to allow both firms and individuals to meet regulatory requirements regarding learning and competence simply, effectively and at low cost.

The ed. system continues to be developed to meet our customers’ and partners’ needs and we aim to continue to offer appropriate examinations and assessments to meet both the needs of our customers and of the regulator.

We therefore look forward to working closely with the FSA to develop solutions to make the new regulatory system from 2004 both workable and fair.

Appendix 1

About the CII

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) was established in London in 1897. Today it has expanded to embrace all aspects of insurance and financial services and has over 66,500 members in over 120 countries worldwide. Around 10% of its membership is based outside the UK and it is the largest professional body in insurance and financial services in the world. It gained Chartered professional body status in 1912.

The CII is run by its members for the benefit of its members, their employers and the industry sector it operates in. A permanent staff of over 150 administers the organisation, along with hundreds of largely unpaid volunteer members. The CII has headquarters in the City of London with a customer service contact centre in South Woodford, London.

CII examinations are currently sat in over 100 examination centres worldwide and in 70 examination centres in the UK. Other countries adopt elements of the CII’s examinations or skills in their own examination systems. Globally, the CII’s breadth is rivalled only by the US based CPCU, although that organisation only covers property and casualty (general) insurance.

The CII has:

· 68 local institutes in the UK (including Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man)

· 7 associated institutes in Ireland (part of the autonomous Insurance Institute of Ireland)

· 69 affiliated institutes worldwide (these are not part of the CII but affiliated to it)

· developed the opportunity for (usually larger) employers to offer in-house examination centres for such examinations as FPC.

The Society of Financial Advisers (SOFA) is the financial services arm of the CII. Established in 1991, it has almost 10,000 members, most of whom are involved in investment advice. It has more practitioner members qualified to a professional level than any other membership body within retail financial services.

We have worked with UK regulators for many years, including the SIB, LAUTRO, FIMBRA, IMRO, PIA, and now MCCB, GISC, Lloyd’s and the FSA.

The CII offers a wide range of examinations and professional qualifications including:

- Fellowship of the CII (FCII): ACII plus three years’ CPD, completion of a major project and passing a business ethics programme module

- Associateship of the CII (ACII): 10 examinations (from a menu of 31 ACII subjects). The ACII is the industry flagship professional qualification and equates to degree standard

- Chartered title: FCIIs and ACIIs may apply to be a Chartered Insurer, Insurance Practitioner or Broker (depending on their job). Chartered status includes a commitment to continuing professional development (CPD) and to a disciplinary regime and codes of conduct and ethics

- Certificate of Insurance Practice: five examinations from a menu of 29 technician level qualifications giving MSTI (Membership of the Society of Technicians in Insurance)

- Certificate in IT for Insurance Professionals (one examination), targeted at those in IT in financial services and jointly awarded with the British Computer Society

- Insurance Foundation Certificate (two examinations): basic competence level qualification, aimed at everyone in the insurance and financial services sector

- Foundation Insurance Test (one examination): foundation qualification on entry to the industry

- Financial Administration Foundation Certificate (FAFC): foundation qualification for those in life and pensions administration

- Advanced Financial Planning Certificate: professional level qualification for financial advisers. Members may go on to become Associates or Fellows of the Society of Financial Advisers

- Financial Planning Certificate: the benchmark qualification for financial advisers recognised by the FSA

- Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ): one examination for mortgage advisers which, together with the attainment of the FPC will satisfy the Mortgage Code Compliance Board (MCCB) examination requirement for registration

- International Certificate for Financial Advisers: one examination, targeted at non-UK based financial advisers

- Life and Pensions Foundation Certificate: FP1 and FP2.

As a global professional and examinations body, the CII operates examination centres in over 100 countries worldwide. It has negotiated a number of special agreements with bodies worldwide that use CII expertise to a greater or lesser extent. It has mutual recognition arrangements with a number of countries, including for example, the USA, Canada and Germany. It is also part of the process that is seeking to develop common and transferable standards, through its chairmanship of the Institute for Global Insurance Education and the European Financial Planning Association.

In addition, the Institute has worked with numerous countries to establish qualifications based on CII syllabuses and tutor materials, localised to the law and practice of the CII partner country.


Appendix 2

About ed.

About ed.

ed. is a way of acquiring knowledge and achieving regulatory compliance via electronic communications. It harnesses the power and reach of the internet to revolutionise the whole process of education and continuing professional development.

The CII has expanded the range and scope of traditional online learning with the launch of ed. Designed for the full spectrum of general insurance and financial services organisations, it provides training on a wide range of subjects and addresses regulatory compliance and competence issues.

ed. gives organisations control over the learning and competency activities of their workforce. It increases the potential for enhanced learning, examination success and regulatory compliance by providing candidates with comprehensive, relevant, up-to-date information via a flexible, responsive communications facility.

ed.: core elements

Learning Management System (LMS)

The Learning Management System within ed. provides employees at all levels of the insurance and financial services industry with access to the CII’s portfolio of training material. Thus, a large amount of information has been distilled into a series of interactive tutorials which can be selected to suit the needs and objectives of the employer and the employee.

The LMS’s powerful database-driven system, which holds the training material, student records and system operation protocols, can be used by the employer to track the training and development activity of every employee, ensuring that efficiency and effectiveness are maximised.

Compliance and Competency System (CCS)

The Compliance and Competency System has been designed following extensive consultation with leading general insurance and financial services organisations and currently provides support and guidance for those seeking to comply with the competency and training rules of the General Insurance Standards Council and the Financial Services Authority.

The core GISC/FSA compliance tools are underpinned by a comprehensive, coordinated range of supporting service including a ‘Knowledge Assessment System’, ‘Continuing Professional Development Log’ and a ‘Reporting System’.

At the CII we recognise that organisations have their own specific requirements, and so CCS has been developed to cater for the introduction of bespoke features and content alongside the universal core material. This means that companies can obtain a system which reflects their particular circumstances and which is capable of changing as the organisation grows and the regulatory context develops.

ed.: meeting your needs

By improving management controls and better equipping students to achieve learning success, ed. can play a pivotal role in developing the capabilities of the business as a whole.

ed. is cost effective. It makes more efficient use of employee time and ensures that resources are precisely targeted to meet the objectives of both employer and employee. Administration is simplified or in many instances eliminated.

ed. is fit for the market because it has been developed in response to customer demands for more and better computer-based training and support. And in tracking the very latest regulatory training and competence requirements, it will help companies ensure they are fit for business.

Details of ed. can be found at www.ed.cii.co.uk

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