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ABI sets new benchmark and plans more mystery shopping

The Association of British Insurers is to go ahead with another mystery shopping exercise to probe commission and has committed itself to a new benchmarking initiative to measure what customers think of firms’ service.

Customers will be able to comment on products, policies when they reach maturity and general service they get when they call companies.

Chairman Richard Harvey announced at the ABI annual conference in London last week that there will be an assessment on how firms handle complaints, with a benchmarking service to help firms recognise and implement best standards.

In a five-point plan, Harvey said the ABI will be preparing best practice guidance on financial advertising and how to ensure savings products match the changing needs of different customer groups. He said: “We could leave this to the regulator but I believe the industry will be able to do a better job for our customers.”

The ABI is also reviewing the raising standards scheme and developing short summaries on products and the risks they carry with the FSA. Harvey added that the association will be contributing to the new financial services forum to demonstrate better communication with consumer bodies, the regulator and government. This is designed to restore customers’ confidence on how the sector operates and includes a new mystery-shopping plan. The ABI says it will look at improving financial education and information with the FSA.

An announcement on the future of the genetics moratorium with the Government is also imminent.

Harvey said: “This programme of action is not intended to address every issue. But it will work alongside the forces of competition and regulation in the marketplace to improve the service which our customers receive, and to help restore confidence.”

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