Archive for June 2010

UK Government CON DEM The FSA Insurance Regulator

The Coalition UK Government led by the right wing Conservative party, have fired their first major shot in the destruction of the Bureaucratic State with the announcement last night of the abolition of The Financial Services Authority, The FSA, which governs the regulated activities of all sectors of the UK Insurance Market.

In a speech to those lovable Bankers and Merchants (Merchant Bankers having a Ruby to you and me Cockneys!) at the annual Lord Mayor of London’s dinner at the Mansion House last night,  Champagne swaffing hatchet man George Osborne announced that the FSA will cease to exist in it’s current form by 2012.

Osborne said,

“What we are proposing is a new system of regulation that learns the lessons of the greatest banking crisis in our lifetime. I can confirm that the Government will abolish the tripartite regime, and the Financial Services Authority will cease to exist in its current form.

“We will create a new prudential regulator, which will operate as a subsidiary of the Bank of England. It will carry out the prudential regulation of financial firms, including banks, investment banks, building societies and insurance companies.”

The news will probably be met with cries of  “hurrah” from Insurance Brokers up and down the Country, who have for five years been complaining about the unfair business practices demanded by the bureaucrats and exorbitant costs of Fees.

Without doubt, The UK Insurance market has shrunk since the FSA came to power due partly to to restrictions and barriers to entry to the market, imposed by the FSA.

What prudential authority is created to replace it remains to be seen. ……

It’s all a little deja vu and while we resent paying our FSA fees as much as the next person involved in UK Insurance, one cannot but think, haven’t we been here before? and before…….

Insurance Marketing Old School

Insurance Blog was gazing through some very old travel guides when we noticed that Insurance Marketing has come a long way since the start of Insurance….

This old advertisement for The London Assurance Company from the turn of 19th century suggests that insurance was something that you didn’t talk about in public – like money!

The london assurance company ad of 1920

‘Very good people to deal with”  What’s all that about then?

Good at what? Deal with What?

“Good Day Mister. I’m from London Assurance. We’ll deal with it for you! (Cockney Accent required)

An interesting thing about the advert is the Firemark in the centre depicting the coat of arms of the Corporation of the City of London, The George Cross.

Also notice the EC4 address which is still very much an Insurance area of the City.

For those of you who don’t know what a fire mark is, a Firemark was a plaque that was placed on the exterior of a property in full public view to indicate to the privately owned fire brigades that the house was covered by home insurance and was worth saving.

If you didn’t have a firemark on your wall and your house caught fire – then it burnt!

Fortunately the days of proving you’ve got home insurance before the Fire Brigade will start putting out the fire, are long gone. Fire Marks though now very collectable, were the very first form of Insurance Marketing and advertising.

By the 1920′s advertising for Home Insurance and property insurance had moved on with the emphasis on courtesy, service and prompt settlement as this fascinating advert from the still existing Eagle Star Company, now part of the Zurich group demonstrates.

eagle star home insurance advert 1920

Hmm…. It still took them nearly 2 months to pay the claim!

I wonder how many of those words prompt settlement and service, you’ll see on price driven television insurance adverts or the Internet insurance marketing campaigns of today!

Aon in the Red! AIG loses the Shirt off it’s back

The prawn sandwiches were out in force yesterday at Old Trafford as the new sponsors of Manchester United Football Club,  Aon the giant American Insurance Broker, took over the lucrative deal from disgraced and broke AIG the not so giant American Insurance Company.

Aon man utd shirts

AIG had to pull out their 14 million a year deal which ran until the end of May this year, after the company was bailed out by the US Treasury to keep it alive.

It’s been a bad week for AIG who failed to complete the sale of their Asian division AIA to the man from the Pru, as the Treasury ‘overvalued’ the operation at 24.5 billion.

It might not be such a big deal for Aon either who have reportedly paid 80 million to be in the Red and announced at the time that they shared a  desire for excellence and winning, based on tradition, integrity, teamwork and success.

Manchester United are no longer the force they were a year ago when the sponsorship deal was cut.  The club could be said to be in crisis for their high standards. The aging team and manager failed to win a trophy last season  and were ignominiously dumped out of the European Champions League in the quarter finals.

The sale of Manchester United Shirts has dropped dramatically domestically with supporters favouring the green and yellow colours of the original club Newton Heath as a demonstration against the way that American owners the Glazer’s have asset stripped the once rich club.

With a lack of success the lucrative Asian shirt market will likely suffer too.

Hey maybe Aon should buy AIA!

Trying to buy success in the UK football market has so far only been achieved by the Russians!

UK Housing Market Home Insurance Mini Boom

Wthether it’s a sign of Spring or the green shoots of recovery, recent activity in the UK housing market has seen an appropriate response from the major UK home insurance companies, with a multi million pound spend on prime time TV advertising.

The home insurance market had gone quiet in recent months but recent positive indicators in the housing market have led to this bombardment on every TV and commercial Radio station. Home Insurance is definitely the flavour of the month with the market under capacity due to many people cutting levels of cover or dropping covers completely because of the recession.

So what’s been happening in the UK housing market recently to have caused this big budget spend?

Well in April house prices had risen by 8.5 % since January which is a startling recovery in itself, and the figures for the number of valuations carried out in May confirm the trend with Valuation activity in May up by over a quarter compared to May 2009, according to the latest research by Connells Estates Survey team.

This confirms that both the supply side of housing and the demand side from potential buyers appear on the face of it bouyant. It remains to be seen if the Bank Assurers are prepared to underwite this economic activity with the supply of mortgages necessary to complete all these potential deals.

The most up-to-date figures currently available from the Land Registry show that during February 2010, the number of completed house sales in England and Wales rose by 49 per cent to 40,502 from 27,190 in February 2009. It will be interesting to see if there were as many sales during the period since February of rising house prices.

The new Government are also sending out mixed messages about the housing market.

On the one hand they have scrapped the regional development of 600,000 houses for low paid workers around the country, presumably to let the vacuum be filed by property developers.
Then on the the hand they intend to hit the private landlords and developers hard in the pocket with large increases in Capital Gains Tax.

Some commentators are saying that 30% of the housing demand is from private investors and forcing a CGT tax-hike on property investors will drive many from the housing market at a time when its recovery is still perilously fragile.
What utter tosh – these are the same people that have seen the values of their properties increase by 400 percent plus over the last ten years. Some of these so called investors, whose greed initially generated the demand that created the massive price rises and forced ‘joe public’ out of the market, own portfolios of 10 20 30 or even 500 properties!
Either way the home insurers are not bothered, because where they once sold a specialist home insurance product to a Landlord they can now sell a standard home insurance policy to a home owner.

Were they all bankers at Monopoly when they were kids?

These people are just as much to blame for the current recession as the Banks that made credit readily available for them to play their easy money games. The toxic debts were only toxic because house prices were artificially inflated by these pariahs and normal people looking for a home were tricked into buying into negative equity without even realising it!

Personally Insurance Blogger thinks CGT should be raised even higher! Those who made all the profits that caused this recession should be made to pay now!

As for the detrimental effect on the housing market and possible falling prices leading to new negative equity….
Well that’s market economics for you and you can only temporarily stop the deflationary pressures that must happen in order to bring new entrants to the market. A market that sorely needs affordable housing where the profits are not going into the hands of a few un-entrepreneurial feudal landlords!