Combined Insurance has been faced with a sales moratorium since October 2010 following a Financial Services Authority inquiry into its sales practices. The insurer was forced to change its sales practices and processes following discussions with the regulator. But discussions between the regulator and the insurer have failed, as they were unable to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement for the FSA to permit it to return to business.
It has an unusual sales operation for the UK with 325 employees and 400 independent sales agents, for some 300,000 customers. The accident and health insurer was bought in 2008 by US giant broker group ACE, from fellow broker AON.
The owners refuse to confirm or deny whether or not the insurer is being closed down, being closed to new business permanently, or being put on hold for a while.
A less than frank company statement read: "Combined Insurance in the UK is proposing to restructure its operations which may result in redundancies in staff. The company is financially strong and is fully committed to providing superior service and claims handling to our more than 300,000 customers in the UK.We have just entered into a consultation period with our staff and have not yet determined the number and types of positions necessary to continue serving our current customers."
Very few insurers that temporarily close to new business ever open again. Frustratingly, although responsible for the closure of the insurer to new sales, the FSA continues its policy of refusal to comment on individual regulated firms; hardly the open and transparent regulation as promised by the current government.