GI firms failing on outsourced underwriting

Sarah Davidson

June 2, 2015

The Financial Conduct Authority published the results of its thematic review of delegated authority arrangements in the general insurance market today and said outsourcing and improvements are needed to due diligence and the way some firms manage outsourced arrangements, particularly in considering and assessing customer outcomes.

Delegated authority is widely used in the UK general insurance market. This can include outsourcing of underwriting and claims handling and the allocation of other functions such as product design to third parties.

The FCA reviewed 12 insurers’ outsourced underwriting and claims handling arrangements and the associated activities of 19 intermediaries and third party administrators.

Linda Woodall, acting director of supervision at the FCA, said: “All firms must ensure they have appropriate oversight of outsourced arrangements and meet their wider responsibilities to deliver fair customer outcomes.

“We expect firms to consider the findings of the report and make any necessary changes to ensure that customers are treated fairly and not at risk of detriment.”

The review revealed that in many cases insurers and intermediaries did not appear to have adequately considered their regulatory obligations in relation to both outsourcing and other functions.

The thematic review also revealed: some insurers did not carry out any conduct-focussed due diligence when selecting third parties; some insurers had not considered whether the products they underwrite treat customers fairly, both in terms of the value and service delivered; some intermediaries undertaking product design activities did not recognise the extent of their responsibilities as product providers; and insufficient oversight of the performance of products and delivery of services.

The FCA will be discussing its findings with the industry and relevant trade bodies and will follow up with individual firms to address specific issues identified as part of the review.

Maxine Cupitt, an insurance partner with law firm CMS, said: “There are long-standing regulatory concerns about the role of delegated authorities and the risks in outsourcing. Firms have to wrestle with the existing UK regime and prepare for the new rules coming from the EU via Solvency II. In personal lines, responsibility for product design and governance is a real danger, and remains an area of potential confusion between intermediaries and insurers.”

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