Letter: Threats to the UK insurance industry

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report (9 August) on the analysis of the UK insurance industry by McKinsey & Company correctly identifies the two main threats to the industry's future - that 'there is no other industry in which so little information exists about customer needs' and that 'talented young managers avoid careers in insurance'.

The former point was amply illustrated by the sudden withdrawal last November by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) of insurance against acts of terrorism, without any form of consultation with its customers. In fact, so little contact exists between commercial insurers and their customers that the annual conference of the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers in Industry and Commerce (Airmic), an association that represents the interests of some 700 companies and individuals as insurance buyers, has now become the industry's pre-eminent forum for discussion for both parties.

The relative lack of talent and innovation within the industry and low level of intellectual debate similarly is a constant concern to Airmic members. It also does little to dispel the industry's somewhat dull and grey image.

For many years the association has been pressing for higher levels of professionalism. To this end the association founded the Institute of Risk Management (IRM), which holds examinations for its members and remains the only academic body for industry and commerce.

Only a committed drive to raise standards throughout the insurance industry will change these real and imagined perceptions and secure our long-term future.

Yours faithfully,

GEOFFREY SAUNDERS

Chairman, Association of

Insurance and Risk Managers

in Industry and Commerce

London, EC3

10 August

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