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UK brokers slam critical report on commissions

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The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has slammed a “headline-grabbing” report by consultancy Mactavish which questions current remuneration structures.

The report finds UK brokers receive as much as 80% of their remuneration from insurers, and just 20% from clients, which creates potential for “a huge conflict of interest”.

“Much of broker remuneration is directly linked to premiums so brokers stand to benefit from the coronavirus-fuelled rise in insurance rates,” Mactavish says.

“These conflicts risk leaving brokers acting as distributors for favoured insurers – often using inappropriate, over-standardised policy terms which have again been exposed by failed coronavirus-related business interruption insurance claims.

“Policyholders are advised to run their own competitive tenders among brokers as a way of achieving better cover and lower premiums.”

BIBA says one of brokers’ fundamental roles is to act in their customer’s best interests “which is exactly what they do”.

“Remuneration by way of commission is actually beneficial for customers who are able, because the broker is paid in this way, to receive advice before having to commit to buying a particular insurance policy,” BIBA said.

It says the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has rules which outline a number of requirements in managing conflicts of interests and “these are followed very closely by brokers”.

“Conflicts of interests will always exist in any intermediated sector which is why the FCA, requires and monitors these to be managed, which they are,” BIBA says.

“The FCA examined conflicts within a thematic review quite recently, and taking their findings into consideration we wholeheartedly dispute the issues raised by Mactavish in their report.

“Brokers have helped clients receive millions of pounds in claims payments since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue act for their clients to get fair claims settlements.

“Given the highly regulated nature of the insurance sector, this report by Mactavish could be considered  opportunistic and in light of their business model, designed to allow them to gain from these published opinions.”