On 6 January 2008, the FSA's new Insurance: Conduct of Business Sourcebook (ICOBS) came into force, replacing the existing ICOB. Insurance companies and intermediaries in the UK have 6 months in which to ensure that their processes and policies (particularly in relation to protection products - see below) meet the new standards.
The principal change introduced by ICOBS is a move to more principles-based regulation. This means that the rules have been simplified where it was felt that specific customer protection was not required, although certain areas, for example distance selling, continue to contain more detailed, EU Directive based, provisions.
In a few other areas, for example in relation to payment protection insurance (and other protection products including critical illness and income protection insurance), the rules are more detailed and have been carefully targeted in an attempt to reduce the perceived mis-selling of such products to consumers.
Although the rules in ICOBS are now higher-level, resulting in more flexibility in the way that insurance firms can satisfy their requirements, the FSA made it clear in a press statement on 18 December 2007 that they will require the same standards of conduct as were more expressly required under ICOB.