Industry messages to Govt 'often fragmented' - APPG

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The insurance sector has been chastised for not engaging well enough with politicians and advisers have been urged to lobby their MPs.

The chair of an important parliamentary group claimed that too often regulations were becoming too complex and being introduced for their own sake, while noting the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was now inevitable.

Speaking at the COVER Health and Protection Forum, Jonathan Evans MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services (APPGIFS), criticised the industry for not co-ordinating its efforts and failing to express its messages clearly.

"I don't think that your industry is very good in terms of its engagement with parliamentarians or with government," he said.

"That doesn't mean trade bodies don't work hard, but it's very often a fragmented message that government and parliamentarians receive."

Using the industry's response to this year's riots as an example, Evans continued: "If it's been well handled it's important that message gets out to the public.

"But I have to say I don't think at the moment that really is done well enough."

"You have to, as an industry, get to a position where you are ahead of the curve on issues such as this, not behind the curve.

"What you have to have is better engagement," he added.

Evans highlighted this point with the issue of the RDR, noting that its debate had been raised far too late which outlined not just a parliamentary shortcoming but an industry one too.

"It's very clear we're late on in the process, there's not going to be any removal of the RDR proposals at all - clearly that's inappropriate.

"But what we saw was a disconnect between what we had been hearing and what the position was with the industry and in the country as a whole, and I think the industry has got to find a better way of connecting."

Evans also addressed the problem of regulation in general, and particularly Solvency II, revealing as many as a dozen rules are not yet agreed.

"It seems remarkable that something which looks quite so simple (the requirement that insurance interests are properly capitalised) has turned into the complexity of the whole Solvency II saga.

"Last week I learned of at least 10 or 12 areas where the actual detail of the current rules is still not yet agreed.

"Of course we need regulation and of course we need to ensure that investors and consumers are protected, but too often we are ending up with regulation for the sake of regulation.

"We do not have, it seems to me, enough of a test as to whether or not the regulations that are under examination really are what are required," Evans added.

He concluded by saying that big opportunities existed for the industry but all members needed to do a better job engaging with the press, regulators, government and consumers.

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