Level the insurance playing field now

Although the recent Queen\'s Speech promised measures to transform the banking sector\'s voluntary code of practice into a legally binding one, the government still seems powerless to control banks\' worst excesses despite its stakes in several of the biggest players.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown could learn from France’s PM Francois Fillon, who has warned that he is ready to nationalise any French bank that continues to put its own interests ahead of those of its customers.

Reports that our government intends to crack down on banks that treat customers unfairly may sound impressive but the truth is that many are still getting away with murder.

Even the penalty of 10m – subsequently reduced to 7m – that the Financial Services Authority imposed on Alliance & Leicester for pressuring customers to take out payment protection insurance was more a slap on the wrist than a telling punishment.

On the other hand, brokers and smaller sellers have been weighed down with extra layers of administration, regulation and cost as a result of the Treating Customers Fairly initiative, which has been unwelcome despite its laudable intentions.

Now that public money is being used to bail out big and once seemingly impregnable institutions, the least we are entitled to is a level playing field for sellers of insurance products.

As has been said many times before, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.