The Insurance Broker

Of course, there are numerous exceptions to the above generalisations about the professions. Some accountancy and law firms are huge organisations which scarcely deal with individuals at all, while others are very small partnerships where one partner may have considerable knowledge of life insurance.

But the person who applies himself full time to providing advice on insurance is the insurance broker. Here again the variation in the type of organisation and advice is enormous. Of the N0,000-odd insurance broking firms in the UK, the majority are small one- or two-man firms whose main income comes from motor, house-and-contents and general insurance for small businesses. These types of insurance are in most respects simpler than life insurance, and brokers who concentrate on them will not necessarily have more than a superficial knowledge of life insurance nor deal with more than a handful of life insurance companies.

At the other end of the spectrum there are the few giant broking firms, with thousands of employees and share quotations on the Stock Exchange. Their main business is advising corporations on the insurance of enormous industrial and business risks - ships, factories, jumbo jets and so on. But they also have subsidiary companies engaged in giving advice on life insurance. Some of this advice is in the form of "financial planning" - overall financial advice for wealthier people in which life insurance often plays the major part. But the large firms also have life insurance broking operations which will advise on almost any scale.

In between the two categories already mentioned, there is another, consisting of brokers who have developed a specialisation in what is usually termed "life and pension" business. Often this has grown up out of a general insurance broking business and is carried out alongside it. Such firms vary in size but their abilities in life and pension business are usually well above those of the High Street corner broker specialising in cheap motor insurance. They also often rely on other professional advisers such as solicitors and accountants for the introduction of much of their business. This type of broker is probably the best source of advice and answers to most people's life insurance questions.

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The Bank Manager

The bank manager is often depicted as a man to turn to for advice on financial matters in general. Today, his role is more often that of the intermediary. Bank managers can and do bring together their banking clients and the bank's own insurance personnel. All the major banks now have their own insurance broking divisions and some also own their own life insurance company as well. There is a wide range of advice offered by the broking personnel who are, normally, qualified insurance staff. In the case of banks which own their own life insurance company there is little evidence that they push the products... see: The Bank Manager

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