The IFSO Scheme Annual Report, released today, reveals a small increase in complaints (322, up from 320 the previous year) and a significant increase in complaint enquiries (3,805, up from 3,357 the previous year) in 2018-2019.
“The increase could signal greater awareness about our free and independent service,” says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Karen Stevens. “However, complaints continue to show that many people simply don’t understand the policy or the contract they’re signing up to. To prevent the common complaints we see every day, communication between financial service providers and their customers must improve.”
225 complaints (70% of the total) were about general insurance. This includes 91 complaints about house insurance, 54 travel, 46 vehicle, and 22 contents insurance. 80 complaints (25% of the total) were about health, life and disability insurance. 12 complaints were about credit contracts, and 3 complaints were about financial advisers.
The most common complaint issues were: policy exclusions, scope of cover, non-disclosure, pre-existing conditions and gradual damage. “Insurance does not cover all things at all times. The best time to understand your cover is before you might need it,” says Karen.
Our top insurance tips for consumers are:
1. Check your policy and be clear about what it does and doesn’t cover
2. Ask about exclusions and limitations
3. Find out what you need to do to make a claim
4. Tell all and tell the truth
5. Be sensible and take care.
“This week’s Money Week theme is Now we’re talking, and across the board we encourage consumers to speak up and ask questions until they understand. Making informed decisions leads to better consumer outcomes. However, when a consumer is not satisfied with a financial product or service, it is their fundamental right to complain,” says Karen.
“The financial sector has been given the strong message to improve conduct and culture. A good step is understanding what can be identified and learnt from complaints.”
“24 years of IFSO Scheme complaints has created a wealth of information about how and when things go wrong. These insights can help industry understand the issues, engage with their customers, and get it right.”