August 17, 2012

Like a big brother tired of seeing their younger sibling constantly picked on by playground bullies and never sticking up for themselves, Insurance Age reckons “It’s time for brokers to rise above the customary bashing”.

Now bashing, most readers will surely agree, whether of brokers or bishops (see illustration below), is, like Royal Danish party rocking all night long, a custom more honor’d in the breach than the observance. But brokers certainly seem to come in for their fair share of it.

The latest savage onslaught of broker bashing came from the Daily Mail’s financially expository spin-off This is Money. TIM claims sensationally to have carried out a mystery shopping exercise to reveal that buying through a broker can add up to £500 to your annual premium.

Mystery Shopping, huh? How does that work, Bankstone News can’t help wondering. Given that a mystery is something people are aware of but cannot explain or understand, does that mean someone walks into an insurance shop, behaves oddly then leaves again, leaving the insurance shopkeepers (or brokers to use the technical term) thinking “what on earth was that all about?” Surely some kind of undercover customer impersonation exercise would have been more appropriate.

Whatever the shortcomings of their methodology, there’s no denying that TIM have given brokers a fair old bashing. Now you can push a “leading general insurance intermediary organisation representing the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers” so far, but BIBA was in no mood to take this lying down and went so far – as Insurance Age acknowledges – as to express “its disappointment with the article.”

But even that was not enough for ‘the Age’ who insist that there is actually a subtle but important difference between an insurance broker and a website. That difference, to cut a long story short, appears to be that websites sell people cheap policies that are probably rubbish, whereas brokers will get you a more expensive one that does cool stuff like paying out when you make a claim.

Problem is, like, Generation Interweb don’t know nothing about brokers and that, you get me, and brokers them need to get on that with some education type of thing, isn’t it. Insurance Age goes on to suggest that the best way to combat this information gap would be “with gusto”, which must surely be right.

Whilst agreeing with TIM that brokers “may make premiums a tad more dear”, IA concludes resoundingly that “you can’t put a premium on honest, upfront, personalised service”. Leaving aside any facile quibbles to the effect that putting a premium on HUPS is precisely what the preceding article has been suggesting can and should be done – or indeed the implicit challenge to idle pricing actuaries out there – this also seems borderline incontrovertible.

Well done Age, we say, for saying what needed to be said.

Can't find any broker bashing pics, will this do?

Can't find any pics of broker bashing, so here's one of Bankstone's own Andy Jones administering a good kicking to another respected member of the community.


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