The ABI has been accused of failing to address the issue of ‘wet signatures' in a guidance paper on over-the-phone and online protection applications.
The paper, published today and entitled ‘Improving clarity of telephone and online applications for protection insurance’, suggests it is “up to each firm” to decide when the applicant signs the proposal form.
But Andy Milburn, IFA market manager at Progress from Royal Liver, says he is unclear how this stance will help the issue of non-disclosure.
The ABI disputes Milburn's claims, arguing the guidance urges firms to '"check the accuracy of the answers submitted on their behalf" in the case of applications completed by a third party.
Milburn says: "The ABI has not made a call on this to decide when the wet signature is given, if at all. I can’t believe they have gone down that route. It’s not best practice.
“You would be amazed at how many times the customer comes back saying: ‘you have missed this’ or ‘I said that and you didn’t put it in’.
“Sadly we knew this would happen. How is this going to help us reduce the issue of non-disclosure in the industry?”
The ABI says the guidance paper has been designed to help providers in the wake of increased online and telephone applications for protection insurance.
The paper outlines, among other things, how over-the-phone questions may need to be 'put' differently, as well as ensuring every stage of the process is explained clearly to the customer.
It says all phone conversations with consumers should be recorded and catalogued, that firms should be able to show evidence of audit trails, and demands consumers are explained the consequences of non-disclosure.
Milburn says the paper also falls short by releasing ‘only' guidance and not ‘being stronger’ on the topic. He adds there is nothing in the paper about minimum qualifications for tele-underwriters, branding it “a big miss”.
But Jonathan French, ABI spokesman, says: "Andy Milburn is mistaken in his criticisms and we will be discussing this with him as soon as we can."
The ABI says members have until 31 August to implement the changes in the guidance.
Nick Starling, ABI director of general insurance and health, says: “In recent years we have seen a growing trend of people taking out life, critical illness and income protection insurance over the phone and online, especially via intermediaries.
“This latest ABI initiative will help ensure that the UK uses world-class online and telephone processes to help people disclose all the relevant information about their medical history.
“We want to ensure that people have full confidence in, and understanding of, the products available. Our latest guidance marks another positive step towards this goal.”
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