As the dust settles on another financial year it is worth looking at some issues that continue to have an element of confusion for all concerned. One of these is the role of an insurance broker in relation to two widely used industry documents – the letter of appointment and the letter of authority.
The purpose of each is for a consumer to approach another broker to act on their behalf. One form, the letter of authority, is an instruction to make enquiries, while the other, the letter of appointment, is a transfer of business from one brokerage to another. These documents are often confused. Use the wrong one and clients may be under the impression that they are merely seeking an alternative quote, only to find they have transferred their portfolio of business to another broker.
The Letter of Authority is a document that may be used in the following examples: the consumer is looking to get an alternative quote via another broker; or if they would like a broker to make enquiries on their behalf, a situation that may occur during a difficult claim. Its purpose is that the instruction from the client is clear and transparent with all parties. This is important to protect privacy and avoid misrepresentation. The document must be signed by the business owner or appointed authority to do so. At this early stage of a possible new broker/client relationship, the broker is not allowed to receive commissions or fees for their services.
The Letter of Appointment is a document that has a clear intent for another brokerage to take over existing business. It would include claims maintenance and credit control. This document authorises the broker to accept commissions and fees for service within the standards set by AFSL licensing requirements.
Both documents have clear, separate intentions but can cause a great deal of confusion if not used correctly. Please contact your broker for guidance in selecting the appropriate document to suit your needs.