The use of instant messages...

The use of e-mail messages has been featured in previous ITIC publications. In the 2002 edition of the Intermediary the subject of Instant Messenger Systems, such as AOL, Yahoo and MSN Messenger, was discussed.

There have been a number of recent enquiries regarding the use of instant messages and ITIC is concerned about the impact that these can have when handling claims.

Instant messenger systems allow written messages to be sent, but do not create a permanent record of the communications. Such systems may be sufficient to circulate general market information but if these exchanges lead to negotiations via the same system and there is no record of the messages sent, this can be problematic if a dispute develops.

Inevitably some exchanges will take place over the telephone (often mobile) and only limited records will exist. The difference with messenger systems is that the other party may have a printed or electronically stored record of exactly what was sent. If you do not you and your principals will face a substantial disadvantage.

In the Manager’s opinion brokers and agents should either avoid using such systems for important exchanges (offers, recaps and so forth) or should take steps to ensure that they have the necessary software available to create a record by either printing off messages or storing them electronically. These records will form important evidence in the event of a claim.

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