The Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme investigated 320 complaints and received 3,357 complaint enquiries in 2017-2018.
The IFSO Scheme Annual Report, released today, reveals the Scheme received the highest number of complaints since 1998-1999.
“Over 23 years, 60,000 people have contacted our service to seek guidance, information or to make a complaint,” says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Karen Stevens. “The increase in complaints could reflect an increase in awareness about our free and independent service, and the right to complain about insurance or financial services.”
Karen says while no single issue has caused the rise, the greatest number of complaints were about general insurance; followed by complaints about health, life and disability insurance – a similar pattern to previous years.
There were 206 general insurance complaints (64% of all complaints), which includes house (85); travel (46); vehicle (35); and contents insurance (21). 98 complaints (or 31%) were about health, life and disability insurance - 36 were about health; 25 life; 21 income protection; and 13 trauma insurance.
Complaints about financial advisers remain relatively low (7 complaints, down from 10 in 2016-2017), together with credit contract complaints (7 complaints, down from 9).
“There will always be complaints, but learning from them is immensely valuable as a means to improve conduct across the entire sector and reduce reputation risk,” says Karen. “Complaints help to inform and educate the industry, with the aim of avoiding customer dissatisfaction.”
“The need for good communication and information is a common theme,” says Karen. “We hear from thousands of consumers who simply do not understand their policy or contract. We urge consumers to read documents and ask questions before they sign anything. Our message is: If you know what you want, and understand your rights and responsibilities, you can make more informed choices.”
While the majority of complaints were not upheld, more complaints were settled (76 or 24%) than the previous year (65 or 21%). “Our case managers are experienced in dispute resolution: negotiation, conciliation and mediation. More settlements is a good result – it means an agreed outcome has been reached between the parties.”
Complaints were also resolved more quickly last year – an average of 54 working days, compared to 63 working days the previous year.
“Complaints can bring about positive change. Learning from them is what is really important. We’re looking forward to working with new IFSO Scheme Commission Chair, Sue Suckling, who has a wealth of experience and will bring an innovative perspective to our growth and development.”
See the Annual Report