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ICOBS 6.1 General

Responsibilities of insurers and insurance intermediaries


1An insurer is responsible for producing, and an insurance intermediary for providing to a customer, the information required by this chapter and by the distance communication rules (see ICOBS 3.1). However, an insurer is responsible for providing information required on mid-term changes, and an insurance intermediary is responsible for producing price information if it agrees this with an insurer.


If there is no insurance intermediary, the insurer is responsible for producing and providing the information.


An insurer must produce information in good time to enable the insurance intermediary to comply with the rules in this chapter, or promptly on an insurance intermediary's request.


These general rules on the responsibilities of insurers and insurance intermediaries are modified by ICOBS 6 Annex 1 if one of the firms is not based in the United Kingdom, and in certain other situations.

Ensuring customers can make an informed decision


A firm must take reasonable steps to ensure a customer is given appropriate information about a policy in good time and in a comprehensible form so that the customer can make an informed decision about the arrangements proposed.


The appropriate information rule

applies pre-conclusion and post-conclusion, and so includes matters such as mid-term changes and renewals. It also applies to the price of the policy.


The level of information required will vary according to matters such as:

  1. (1)

    the knowledge, experience and ability of a typical customer for the policy;

  2. (2)

    the policy terms, including its main benefits, exclusions, limitations, conditions and its duration;

  3. (3)

    the policy's overall complexity;

  4. (4)

    whether the policy is bought in connection with other goods and services;

  5. (5)

    distance communication information requirements (for example, under the distance communication rules less information can be given during certain telephone sales than in a sale made purely by written correspondence (see ICOBS 3.1.14 R)); and

  6. (6)

    whether the same information has been provided to the customer previously and, if so, when.


In determining what is “in good time”, a firm should consider the importance of the information to the customer's decision-making process and the point at which the information may be most useful. Distance communication timing requirements are also relevant (for example, the distance communication rules enable certain information to be provided post-conclusion in telephone and certain other sales (see ICOBS 3.1.14 R and ICOBS 3.1.15 R)).


Cancellation rights do not affect what information it is appropriate to give to a customer in order to enable him to make an informed purchasing decision.


A firm dealing with a consumer may wish to provide information in a policy summary or as a key features document (see ICOBS 6 Annex 2).

Providing evidence of cover


Under Principle 7 a firm should provide evidence of cover promptly after inception of a policy. Firms will need to take into account the type of customer and the effect of other information requirements, for example those under the distance communication rules (ICOBS 3.1).

Group policies


Under Principle 7, a firm that sells a group policy should provide appropriate information to the customer to pass on to other policyholders. It should tell the customer that he should give the information to each policyholder.

Price disclosure: connected goods or services

  1. (1)

    If a policy is bought by a consumer in connection with other goods or services a firm must, before conclusion of the contract, disclose its premium separately from any other prices and whether buying the policy is compulsory.

  2. (2)

    In the case of a distance contract, disclosure of whether buying the policy is compulsory may be made in accordance with the timing requirements under the distance communication rules (see ICOBS 3.1.8 R, ICOBS 3.1.14 R and ICOBS 3.1.15 R).

Exception to the timing rules: distance contracts and voice telephony communications


Where a rule in this chapter requires information to be provided in writing or another durable medium before conclusion of a contract, a firm may instead provide that information in accordance with the distance communication timing requirements (see ICOBS 3.1.14 R and ICOBS 3.1.15 R).