December 13, 2015

Back in March 2013 when ‘broker’ Stuart Picked-on fell out with the underwriter behind the white-labeled domestic items insurance his company My Cover sold, Stu had a bit of a brainwave, asking himself the obvious-with-hindsight question: Who needs an underwriter?

What do underwriters contribute after all? Basically they take the money while the broker does all the hard work. From the instant of that revelatory insight onwards, Stu decided to dispense with the thankless business of involving an underwriter, going on to sell (or mis-sell as pernickety regulators insist on calling it) more than 11,000 100% insurer-free policies.

Nobody seemed to miss having an underwriter involved, least of all Stu, who was basically minting it. Not that he made a big song and dance about this radically reimagined insurance process. Easiest not to rock the boat and carry on acting as if there was an insurer around. For some reason a lot of people seem to find that reassuring. But, frankly, unless they needed to make a claim or something, they’re never really going to notice the difference, are they.

What Stuart hadn’t reckoned on was the eagle-eyed oversight exercised by the FCA, who took little more than eight months to spot what he was up to and swoop to put a stop to it. By the time he got shut down in November 2013, Picked-on’s un-underwritten policies had brought in around a million quid, though mysteriously My Cover proved to have a mere £12k in assets and £1.5m in liabilities on its balance sheet.

Now that the FCA has waded in and brought Mr P to book, we can he confident he’s learned his lesson. Having been banned from acting as a director for a full 11 years he’s certainly had his wings clipped. Presumably he’s also received some other more general ban preventing him from involving himself in the sale of anything else which, on diligent examination, turns out to have no basis in factual reality.

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