A professional oath for the GI sector?

It is worth comparing how the Hippocratic Oath, to which Doctors and Surgeons swear allegiance, fits quite snugly with the insurance broking profession of today. It also shows us that legislation such as the IDD is not a haphazard piece of work but part of a global impetus to reasonably ensure the needs and interests of the client are a priority.

The left-hand column of the below table details the Hippocratic Oath while the right column details how a professional insurance broker should behave; you may recognise that the IDD for insurance brokers is, in its entirety, a reassertion of what professional standards look like, which can draw strong parallels with established professional codes of conduct.

No Professional insurance broker should panic or be panicked about IDD. Get to know what it contains, see how it sits with how you do business and run your business already and then undertake a gap analysis. Ask yourself what more do you need to do to be compliant?

Then, work with RWA if you need to fill those gaps in a professional and measured way.

One of the biggest issues you will need to consider is whether those you deal with up and down the distribution chain sit well with the following standards.

If they do not, then we have work to do together!

HIPPOCRATIC OATH 

INSURANCE BROKER STANDARDS

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

Learn from people with experience and expertise and as you grow professionally share your experience and expertise with other practitioners.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

Advise clients of their demands and needs at all times but don’t oversell.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

Providing a service and caring for the client is as important as the advice you give.

I will not be ashamed to say, "I know not", nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

If you are not competent to do a job, then say so, and if possible refer the matter to a colleague who is.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death…

Above all, I must not play at God.

A client’s affairs are confidential and must not be disclosed to others unless the client agrees or there is a legal imperative. The information you hold belongs to your client and not to you.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

Insurance is not just about replacing or repairing property or protecting rights. It is also about security for people and families.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

Help the client prevent a loss in the first place as it is better that a loss never occurs.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

You are a professional practitioner with such a position in society that people come to you for help. Apply this code with non-clients as well as clients.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Be remembered for helping people avoid disruption to their lives through financial loss that can be insured against. Be proud to have the competence to help them so that when something does go wrong, they have suitable insurance to help them get back to the position they would have enjoyed had the loss not occurred. Seek to promote, maintain and enhance the profession of insurance broking.

My message to any professional within the general insurance sector is simple; take pride in what you do. Do not panic about the IDD; instead, work diligently to meet the requirements of the directive, which ultimately seeks to reassert the high-standards of your profession.

About the author

Robin Wood founded RWA in 1992. He is an acknowledged Expert on insurance broker's duties and Conduct Standards and Risk Management and has been an Expert to the courts on a number of reported cases including ​Environcom v Miles Smith, The Café De Lecq case and Eurokey v Giles.

Robin is happy to advise anyone who wants to know how to meet good and reasonable standards of conduct and behaviour whether that be a sole trader or a regulator. Robin has written a number of important guide books on topics such as Training & Competence, The Duty of an Insurance Broker, The Insurance Act and Professional Standards of Insurance Brokers. A regular speaker at industry conference events and Masterclasses, Robin is an engaging presenter who is known for filling a room and providing a challenging and effective delivery. He is a Member of the Expert Witness Institute.

Robin Wood

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