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Don&#39t let insurers&#39 defence turn into an attack on IFAs

Norwich Union&#39s chief actuary has told a committee of MPs that IFAs are the reason why NU must take genetic test results into account when considering life insurance applications.

NU was merely pointing out that intermediaries make the market so competitive and help insure bigger sums on behalf of clients so providers need all the information they can to maintain profitability.

We have some sympathy with NU on the wider issue. Smaller operations such as Virgin Direct and CIS may have the flexibility not to use genetic testing.

This is one of several examples of providers taking a principled stand on issues that fit neatly with the demands of Government, backbenchers, consumer groups or national newspapers and boosting their own brands in the process.

Virgin is in a league of its own in doing so but Norwich Union&#39s own fund management operation has used similar tactics with the Cat-standard Isa.

Clearly, some “principled stands” are more principled than others but the tactic is an established part of marketing practice today.

Our concern is that it can leave other providers looking like the villains of the piece when they may not be.

NU has every right to defend itself if it believes the issue is crucial to its ability to offer life insurance profitably.

But insurers must be careful that, in defending themselves, they do not leave others with a mistaken improession that IFAs are the villains for representing their clients&#39 interests.

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