News item

Change to archaic law overcomes first hurdle

trading standardsThe first reading has taken place in the House of Lords for The Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Bill. This is a hugely significant moment for the Trading Standards Institute, who has been campaigning for a change in consumer insurance law since May 2009.

The archaic insurance law dates back to the Marine Insurance Act 1906 which, as a commercial statute, is heavily weighted against consumers. It allows insurers to refuse a claim if the policyholder failed to disclose any relevant information when they signed up – even if the consumer answered all the questions that were asked honestly and reasonably.

TSI highlighted the issues around the law at the organisation’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting and organised a high-level roundtable to explore the issues around bring in change. Following this, The Scottish and English Law Commissions published a report proposing that the law, and the raft of voluntary codes of practice that have appeared over the years, should be clarified, putting the onus on the insurer to ask the rights questions rather than consumers being expected to volunteer information about anything which a ‘prudent insurer’ would consider relevant.

Peter Tyldesley, a lecturer in insurance law at Manchester University who has been instrumental in pushing the campaign forward, said: ‘It is great news to hear that the Government has decided to implement the Law Commissions’ recommendations for the reform of key aspects of consumer insurance law. The law was not developed with consumers in mind, it sets unreasonable standards for them to meet and punishes them disproportionately when they fail.

‘Insurance law reform will bring benefits for all – a guaranteed fairer deal for consumers and renewed confidence in the insurance industry.’

David Sanders, TSI Lead Officer for Civil Law, said: ‘We have campaigned long and hard for consumer laws that are appropriate to the modern age and fair to consumers and traders alike.

‘Like other ancient laws devised solely for business, such as Sale of Goods law and Bills of Sale, Consumer Insurance Law is totally inappropriate for consumers in the modern age and often leads to great hardship for consumers – sometimes when there is already the stress of serious illness.’

Notes for Editors:

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Lizi Piggins at TSI press office on 08456089430 or

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.