If Dennis Wheatley and his trigger happy posse at the FCA have their way, there’ll be precious little left of our once great insurance industry before too long. The latest harebrained scheme they’re toting round town is an outright ban on selling people things they don’t know they’re buying.

Yes, that’s right, as far as those FCAers are concerned, insurance providers should only be allowed to sell people things they actually want to buy. Apparently they carried out some kind of survey last year and found that consumers don’t like having things sold to them without their knowledge.

Basically what we’re talking about here is something called strap-ons. For years insurance purchasers have benefitted from special high-value low-cost bonus added-extra goodies that they may or may not have actually asked for, but which they certainly didn’t say they didn’t want by ticking the appropriate box.

For just a few extra pounds (sometimes just pence) per month, consumers got real added value. So it was good news for consumers, good news for intermediaries, who made some extra commission (often quite a lot), and good news for underwriters, because people rarely claim on policies they don’t know they have!

Every one, as Errol Brown used to say back in the day, ’s a winner.

But, oh no, the regulator has to come wading in with his great big clompy killjoy boots to spoil the fun again. FCA man Christopher Wooltard reckons “opt out selling often results in consumers purchasing an insurance product they don’t need.” But, let’s face it, no one ever really knows whether and when they’re going to need an insurance product.

Banning strap-ons, Wooltard claims, will put consumers “in a better position to decide what they want and consider the options available to them.” All well and good in theory, but frankly a lot of these idiots have no idea what they want. Basically they need someone to point them in the right direction and give them a friendly kick in the pants.

If you start bombarding them with information and offering them this choice and that choice, they don’t like it. They don’t know what’s good for them, see. And that’s where a friendly intermediary can help by sending them away with an armful of just-in-case goodies, so they can never come back and say “Oy, why didn’t you sell me one of those?”

So, yeah, regulation gone mad. But what can you do!



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