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EU may force FSA regulation of all insurance advice

The FSA could be forced to regulate advice on all insurance products if the Government fails to negotiate a UK exemption from a directive currently before the European parliament.

The Insurance Intermediaries Directive says all intermediaries must be statutorially regulated, including those who sell private medical insurance, critical-illness cover, income protection and general insurance, which are areas currently regulated by the General Insurance Standards Council.

The move would mean either the FSA would be obliged to take control of several areas it does not currently regulate or the GISC would have to become a statutory regulator in its own right, something the Government has so far been reluctant to do.

The Treasury is attempting to negotiate some form of exemption from the directive for the UK market. The directive is due to come into effect at the end of 2003.

An internal ABI circular to its members obtained by Money Marketing expressing the trade body&#39s concern about the possible development, notes that the European Commission and a majority of member states are opposed to such an exemption.

The directive is intended to make it easier for intermediaries to operate across EU member states.

ABI head of media and political affairs Alan Leaman says: “The GISC is a proper and coherent regulator, particularly for the general insurance market, and it should be all-owed to establish itself and work effectively.”

GISC communications officer Rachel Maidment says: “The GISC is in discussions as to how it would work as a competent authority if this directive is implemented as it currently stands.”

Aifa director general Paul Smee says: “This is a very fluid situation but at the present the directive would require there to be some extension of the scope of statutory regulation into areas that at the moment are either self-regulated or outside of regulation.”


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