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No place for secrecy

A refusal by a UK insurance company to release figures to the public at large on the performance of endowment policies should not be taken lightly.

Any insurer doing so is putting up its hands and claiming membership of a club that doesn&#39t believe in transparency but in secrecy instead.

The insurer or insurers concerned may plead that any issues affecting such policies are a matter for communication with customers.

Why should journalists be privy to such information? It is not their divine right to have access to such information and by using descriptions such as slashing and axing, don&#39t they risk panicking consumers? Money Marketing and, we hope, the vast majority of IFAs would see it differently. They think being transparent is a great virtue, however bad some reporting may be. It not only allows customers who may be invested or insured with a life office to make fully informed decisions but it also allows potential future customers to make decisions about whether to invest. Information surrounding bonus cuts is something that the public at large should have access to. There isn&#39t going to be a lot of good news while this bear market continues but some companies have been exemplary in their communications about what is happening.

The alternative – a world where information is not disclosed – is something that should have been left behind a decade ago at least. Regardless of whatever fancy cross-industry schemes exist for new customers – and there is merit in what Raising Standards is doing, the whole insurance industry must be prepared to be open about products sold in the past or it will never restore its reputation.

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