Terms of Business
We are an Independent Insurance Intermediary and as such we act as the agent of our client. However, in certain circumstances we may act for and owe duties of care to other parties. We will advise you when these circumstances occur so you will be aware of any possible conflict of interest.
We will make a personal recommendation for you after we have assessed your insurance demands and needs identifying a policy which best meets your requirements. If we are unable to make a recommendation we will provide details of a policy that is consistent with your demands and needs enabling you to make an informed purchasing decision. Any demands and needs that cannot be met will be highlighted.
We will assist you and act as your agent in effecting any changes that you need to make to your insurance policy, with the renewal of your insurance policy and with any claim you need to make.
We are also a credit broker in that we introduce those wishing to pay by instalments to firms that are able to lend money under a regulated credit agreement by way of business.
Who regulates us?
Character Financial Services Ltd T/As Character IB is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Our FCA number is 144340.
Our permitted business is advising on, arranging, transacting and administering general insurance contracts. You can check this on the Financial Services Register by visiting the FCA’s website: www.FCA.gov.uk/register/home.do or by contacting the FCA on 0800 111 6768.
Our permitted business is advising on, arranging and assisting in the administration and performance of a contract of insurance. We are also authorised and regulated to carry on credit broking.
We normally receive commission from insurers which is a percentage of the premium paid by you and allowed by the insurers. In addition we may charge a professional fee which is paid by you to cover the placing and ongoing handling of your insurance.
From time to time depending on the work and risk involved it may be necessary to charge greater fees. The specific amount and purpose of any professional fee and administration charges will always be advised to you in advance. We earn the entirety of our commission and/or fees when your risk is successfully placed and take our commission and/or fees immediately upon receipt of payment unless agreed otherwise with your insurer.
Disclosure of Earnings
You are entitled, at any time, to request information regarding earnings that we, or any other intermediary we have used, receive as a result of placing your business. Our remuneration will either be a fee as agreed with you or commission from insurers or a combination of both where appropriate. This will include commission, fees, over-rider agreements, profit share arrangements and any volume business deals that your policy may contribute towards. In addition to commission from insurers, we may also receive payments based on volumes of business or profitability of the account placed with them. Obviously these payments can vary from year to year. Such remuneration is only earned on the basis that it does not detract from our obligation to act in our customer’s best interest at all times.
Mid-term adjustments or cancellations:
In the event of an adjustment that results in a return of premium or cancellation mid-term we will refund the premium due net of our full commission and any charge made by insurers. Where the premium is being paid by instalments we will claim our full commission along with any charge made by the insurers in the calculation of any outstanding monies.
Some policies may not attract a premium refund in the event of cancellation. If the premium is being paid by instalments, you may still need to pay any remaining payments. If you may need to cancel your policy prior to the policy expiry date, you should discuss this with us prior to incepting/renewing cover.
Consumer Cancellation Rights
Persons operating outside their business trade or profession have 14 days to cancel the insurance policy without penalty. The cancellation period begins the later of the day of the conclusion of the contract or when the contractual terms and conditions are received. Exercising the right to cancel means that you have withdrawn from the contract and that cover is terminated. When exercising the right to cancel, costs may be incurred for the service provided.
Cancellations due to premium instalment defaults
If any payment in respect of a credit agreement is not met, you acknowledge and agree that we may instruct on your behalf the relevant insurer to cancel the insurance and to collect any refund of premiums which may be made by the insurer and use it to offset any outstanding costs.
We normally accept payment by cheque or credit card or the bankers automated clearing system (BACS). We require full payment of the premium immediately cover is effected. You may be able to spread your payments through a credit scheme and we will advise you further if these options are available.
How we will handle your money
Our Non-Statutory Trust account has been set up in accordance with rules laid down by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We are the Agent of Insurers for the collection of certain premiums. We are required to inform you that we may use your premium to settle premiums due under other policies including those payable by other clients. Similarly, claims and premium refunds can also be paid to a client before receiving remittance of those monies from the insurer. In arranging your insurance we may employ the services of other intermediaries who are regulated by the FCA and your premium may be passed to these intermediaries for payment to insurers. Any interest, or investment returns, earned on your money whilst in our possession will be retained by us.
Your Duty to Provide Information (Consumers)
It is your duty to take reasonable care to answer all questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. If you do not, your insurance policy may be cancelled or treated as if it never existed or your claim may be rejected or not paid in full. It is important that all statements you make on proposal and claim forms and other documents are full and accurate. If a form is completed on your behalf, you should check that the answers shown to any of the questions are true and accurate before signing the document. Failure to provide requested information to your insurers could invalidate your insurance cover and mean that part or all of a claim may not be paid.
Duty of Fair Presentation (non-consumer clients)
Before entering into a contract of insurance, prior to a midterm alteration and ahead of your policy renewal, it is your statutory duty to make a fair presentation of your risk. This information must be provided in a clear and accessible format. You must disclose, where practical, all material circumstances about your risk, this being information that might affect the judgement of a prudent insurer in deciding whether to accept your risk or not - should you require additional explanation of what constitutes a material circumstance, please contact us immediately. You must make reasonable enquiries before presenting your risk and ensure that all individuals holding knowledge about the risk have been approached in the compilation of this information. If you feel you have not been able to do so, please advise us so we can allow underwriters to make further enquiries if they wish to do so.
You must complete any proposal forms or fact finds provided to you, honestly, accurately and in good faith. Any deliberate or reckless misrepresentation may involve part or your entire claim being declined and in some circumstances the Insurer may be entitled to retain your premium whilst avoiding the policy. If the misrepresentation is not deliberate or reckless the insurer can:
1. Avoid the policy but return all premiums paid if it can prove it would not have entered into the policy at all.
2. If the insurer would have entered into the policy but on different terms, the policy will be treated as if it included those terms.
3. If the insurer would have entered into the contract but would have charged a higher premium, the insurer may reduce proportionately the amount to be paid on a claim to reflect that premium adjustment.
We will provide you with a written summary of our information presented to underwriters for you to check upon request.
Placing Your Insurances
We sell and advise on a wide range of both personal and commercial insurance products. For the majority of the products that we offer we provide advice or information on the basis of a fair analysis of the market in order to identify a suitable product. This means that we will compare products from a sufficiently large range of insurance providers in terms of cover, price, quality of service and other relevant features in order to select appropriate policies for you. If this is not the case we will advise you of the breadth of our marketing prior to inception of the policy and where appropriate provide you with a list of the insurers we may and do place business with for the type of cover requested. We may place your business with affiliated companies if we feel it is in your best interest. We may be required to verify your identity in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations and will request the necessary evidence from you to prove your identity. Failure to provide satisfactory evidence could result in the product not proceeding.
Whilst we take every care to check the financial stability of any firm with which we place business, we cannot be held responsible if that firm subsequently ceases to trade.
As part of our service we can assist you with any claim you need to make. When you first become a customer we will give you details of how you can make a claim and tell you what your responsibilities are in relation to making claims. If you are ever in any doubt as to what action to take in the event of a claim, please contact us at the address given overleaf.
It is our intention to provide you with a high level of customer service at all times. If you should wish to make a complaint about our service we have a formal complaints procedure. In the first instance you should contact us at the address given overleaf. Please address your complaint to Paul Driver, Director. We shall supply you with a copy of our complaints procedure upon receipt of a complaint or at any time upon request. You will be advised of any redress available to you, should you believe the matter has not been resolved to your satisfaction. If you cannot settle your complaint with us you may be entitled to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service. We will advise you if you are able to refer any complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/)
Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
We are covered by the FSCS. You may be entitled to compensation from the scheme if we cannot meet our obligations. This depends on the type of business and the circumstances of the claim. Non compulsory insurance advising is covered for 90% of the claim, with no upper limit. For compulsory classes of insurance this increases to 100% of the claim, without any upper limit. Further information about compensation scheme arrangements is available from the FSCS (www.fscs.org.uk).
Confidentiality (how we use your information)
All personal information about you will be treated as private and confidential. We are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998 and we undertake to comply with the Act in all our dealings with your personal data. Your personal information will be kept secure. If you require more information on how we use your personal data please contact us and request a copy of our privacy notice.
We and other firms involved in arranging your insurance (insurers, other intermediaries or premium finance companies) may use public and personal data from a variety of sources including credit reference agencies and other organisations. Any credit reference search will appear on your credit report whether or not your application proceeds. Please contact us if you do not consent to a credit check being undertaken.
Claims and Underwriting Exchange Register and Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Register
Insurers pass information to the Claims and Underwriting exchange register operated by Database Services Limited and the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Register compiled by the Association of British Insurers. The objective is to check information provided and to prevent fraudulent claims. Motor insurance details are also added to the Motor Insurance Database operated by the Motor Insurers’ Information Centre (MIIC), which has been formed to help identify uninsured drivers and may be accessed by the police to help confirm who is insured to drive. In the event of an accident, this database may be used by insurers, MIIC and your motor insurer to identify relevant policy information. Other insurance related databases may also be added in the future.
Motor Insurance Database (MID)
If an Insurer specifies that a client must take responsibility for populating and updating the MID Character Financial Services Ltd T/As Character I.B cannot accept responsibility if a client fails in their obligations to do so as set down by current legislation.
Clients Compliance with Health and Safety (and similar) requirements
Character Financial Services Ltd T/As Character I.B cannot be held responsible for a client’s non-compliance with Health and Safety (or similar) requirements.
This document is subject to English Law and the jurisdiction of English Courts.