Defined Benefit  

Triage services could help advisers with PI cover

Triage services could help advisers with PI cover

Advisers who have triage services in place could get better conditions from professional indemnity (PI) insurers, experts have said.

Garon Anthony, partner in the litigation practice group at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, said automated services in particular could work to reduce the perceived risk for the insurer.

Mr Anthony said: "I can see why [having an independent triage service] is a helpful development for some IFAs.

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"I suspect that some consumers could argue [an] IFA [has] turned the triage service into personal advice, and they are complaining as a result of that, but if you're doing it through a machine, it is very difficult to make that claim. I can see that being regarded by insurers as a risk mitigation structure."

But he warned there should be "clear blue water between what is a triage service and the advice process".

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has clarified how firms can provide an appropriate triage service that gives factual and generic information without stepping across the advice boundary in defined benefit (DB) transfers.

The new guidance – which says firms should provide generic, balanced information on the advantages and disadvantages of pension transfers - will come into effect in January 2019.

Mr Anthony said: "If you look at it from an insurer's point of view, they could be concerned that when the financial adviser did stray into personal advice rather than giving triage services, that could create a liability for that IFA if the customer complained, which the insurer would have to pick up the tab for."

One adviser told Financial Adviser he had benefitted from a video service offering educational material to clients that was launched early this year.

Phil McGovern, chartered financial planner and managing director of MPA Financial Management, said underwriters "seemed very impressed" with the process he followed when dealing with people looking to transfer out of their DB scheme.

He said: "None of them had seen it in practice, but they both seemed very impressed with the process that every client [goes through] from the very start, in an unbiased way."

The adviser's current insurer then offered him terms for renewing the policy, which were in line with what Mr McGovern had expected.

He said: "Our turnover went up 40 per cent over the year in question, so our PI has gone up 40 per cent, which is pretty much what I had expected. The excess has gone up from £10,000 to £15,000, which I'm happy with, because last year they tried to increase it to £20,000."

Known as Final Salary Portal, the video service was created by tech firm Money Alive and first launched as a prototype in November. A commercial version was launched in January.

The portal is made up of a series of 17 short videos, each illustrating a particular issue relating to DB pension transfers, such as what it means to a saver's guarantees if they transfer out, or what it means for taxation if they stay.