In a daring act of delegation, the The FSA has asked comparison site operators this week to check up on themselves and make sure they are treating customers fairly and not inadvertently straying into activities for which they are not authorised.

Following persistent complaints  from more traditional purveyors of insurance products, the FSA has apparently somehow got the idea that there might be possible grounds for concern over exactly how fairly aggregators fair treat their customers and whether they are might be exercising inappropriate influence over site-users’ purchasing decisions.

The regulator has written to comparisonistas up and down the land asking if they could “think carefully” about whether they might effectively be “advising” people on purchasing a contract of insurance without having the proper permissions to engage in such activities.

Newly armed with a list of helpful hints and tips from the FSA, the comparisoneers have until 8 August to complete their introspective reviews and satisfy themselves they are acting properly and responsibly in line with their current permissions and authorisations.

In a pronouncement surely destined to garner the Plain English sentence of the year award, BIBA chief exec Eric Gallbreath helpfully explained to Insurance Times this week the true import of the FSA’s letter: “We are pleased that the FSA recognise the price comparison website activities to be more than simply introducing and we trust that the steps that they are taking will close them down this gap.”

BIBA has expressed particular concern over comparison sites pre-populating questions with default answers, thereby potentially nudging customers in a particular direction and/or denying them the opportunity to disclose all material facts and thusly imperiling their ability to make a successful claim.

Come on, Guys – they’re just trying to be helpful!


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