Forty-one financial services firms have signed up to the ABI's Raising Standards quality mark scheme...
Forty-one financial services firms have signed up to the ABI's Raising Standards quality mark scheme but some large insurers have yet to express their support.
The ABI launched the quality mark scheme last month to help repair consumer faith in the insurance industry. The scheme is part of the ABI's Savings and Long Term Risk initiative (SALTR) and has the support of the Government, the FSA and the AIFA.
Life offices have to adhere to a number of promises, including clear and comparable information, appropriateness of products purchased and quality of service.
Those who have not signed up include Virgin and Legal & General. John Morgan, spokesman for L&G, said: "In our view the biggest issue facing assurers is the cost of products and SALTR does not address this.
"The FSA is the primary regulator of the industry, it sets the standards and we do not want to see consumers confused by other bodies. We are not saying that we are not going to join. We are saying that we are not joining at the moment."
Brands must meet standards that underpin promises. For example, the promise covering clear and comparable information requires brands to describe the features, benefits, costs and charges in a standard format.
The overall impact of charges must be illustrated by a reduction in yield calculation, and customers must receive a statement at least once a year.
The scheme covers products bought by individuals for their long-term saving and protection requirements, including individual life and pension products, and Isas.
But the scheme has received criticism for not setting higher standards, and for not having the same stringent guidelines required for CAT-marked mortgages or stakeholder pensions.
Geoff Brown, managing director of Bupa Healthcare supports the initiative. He said "It might not meet these standards but standardisation will help the customer more. It is the first step and we will have further steps in the future."
Rosalind Pearson, personal finance research and planning manager at Swiss Life, said that the success of the scheme relies on all providers signing up. She added: "The industry has an image problem due to the pensions review and endowments and while it is doing its utmost to fix these problems, the industry does need to be seen to make a proactive effort to clean up its act."
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