Read, ask, disclose: Money Week tips from the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

August 16

Read and understand now, and avoid problems later, says Karen Stevens, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman.

“Over 3,000 people contact us each year with a problem or complaint about their insurance or financial service provider,” says Karen. “Many common complaints could be avoided if people understood what they’re signing up to. We urge consumers to keep asking questions until they fully understand.”

Insurance complaints (including house, contents, vehicle, health and travel) are by far the most common issues the IFSO Scheme deals with on a daily basis. “Insurance does not cover you for all things at all times. But there are steps you can take to ensure you get the kind of cover you expect, should you need it,” says Karen.

“Even if you’re purchasing insurance online, or as part of a travel package, always get hold of the policy and work out what will and won’t be covered,” says Karen. “When filling in applications, answer all questions, tell the truth, and, if in doubt, disclose.”

Money week tips

1. Read your policy or contract.

Understand what you will and won’t be covered for. Ask questions until you understand.

2. Understand what you need to do.

  • Answer all questions accurately.
  • Tell the truth. There is no such thing as a bit of a lie when it comes to insurance.
  • If in doubt, disclose.
  • Take reasonable care. Lock your house and car, don’t leave valuable items in your car or in your checked-in luggage when travelling.
  • Take more care with valuable items. Some policies might require you to wear jewellery or have it “on your person” while travelling.
  • Report stolen items.
  • Make payments when required.

3. Understand any limitations and exclusions under the policy.

Common exclusions include pre-existing conditions for travel, gradual damage for house, and mechanical breakdown for car insurance.

4. Understand the process for making a claim. What will your insurer need?

  • Keep receipts and valuations.
  • Photograph and document damaged items.

The IFSO Scheme has provided an independent and free complaint resolution service for consumers for 22 years.

Common insurance issues the IFSO Scheme investigates (see links to info sheets) relate to:

Case studies of complaints are available on our website.