How to make an insurance complaint

If you’re not happy with the service offered by your insurance company, or the way they have treated you, you have the right to complain.

Why complain about an insurance company?

There are a number of reasons why you might make a complaint about an insurance company.

For example:

  • repair work has been done to a poor standard
  • your policies have been automatically renewed without you realising it
  • you might feel that your policies weren’t explained properly when they were sold to you.

After you make a complaint, the insurance company will look at your complaint and see if it’s appropriate to compensate you.

There’s a simple, step-by-step process you can go through to try and resolve the problem – first by complaining to your insurance company and then by asking the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate your complaint for free.

Step 1 – Try to resolve the complaint informally

If you bought your policy through an insurance broker, they might make your complaint for you – it’s worth asking, to save yourself the hassle.

It’s sometimes possible to resolve a complaint informally with a quick phone call to the insurance company’s helpline.

It’s a good first step – but make sure to note down who you spoke to, when, and what was said, just in case you need to take things further.

Step 2 – Send a written complaint

If you’re not happy with the company’s response to your informal complaint, or you prefer to write a letter than use the phone, you can make a written complaint.

Every insurance company must publish a formal complaints procedure that you can follow if things go wrong.

It tells you who to contact and when to expect a response. Many companies publish this on their website.

If you can’t find it, contact them and ask for a copy.

How to write a formal insurance complaint letter

When writing a formal insurance complaint letter, be sure to:

  • put the date
  • give your name and policy number
  • mark the letter ‘complaint’ clearly at the top
  • include any evidence you have to support your complaint
  • say what you would like the company to do to put things right
  • explain your complaint clearly, stating what you’re unhappy about and when it happened
  • state that if you are unhappy with the company’s response you will take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (see below).
Use our letter template (DOC 31KB) or follow the tips above to write your letter of complaint.

Keeping records of your complaint

Keep a copy of any correspondence and notes of any telephone conversations so you can pass them on to the Ombudsman Service if you need to.

You should also keep:

  • every letter you receive
  • a copy of every letter you send
  • for every phone call related to your complaint, a note of the time, the date, who you spoke to and what was said.

Step 3 – Ask the Financial Ombudsman Service for help

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a free service which helps to resolve disputes between consumers and financial services organisations, and deals with 5,000 enquiries every working day.

The Ombudsman Service is completely free to use.

When can you use the Financial Ombudsman Service?

Before you can use the Ombudsman Service, you have to follow your insurance company’s official complaints procedure.

Once you’ve complained they have eight weeks to respond.

You can contact the Ombudsman Service initially for advice, but they can only act after you get a final response from the insurance company, or as soon as the eight weeks are up.

How to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service?

Download and complete a complaint form from the Financial Ombudsman Service website.

Send it off with a copy of the final response letter from your insurance company plus any other documents you have that support your case.

What will the Ombudsman Service do?

The Ombudsman Service will look at the case based on the facts – you don’t have to worry about presentation or arguments, just about telling the truth in your own words.

They will listen to your side of the story and the insurance company’s side and try to come to a fair judgement.

They’ll either reject or accept your complaint, or help you come to a settlement with the company.

If it decides you’ve been unfairly treated it has the power to make the company:

  • apologise
  • explain their actions
  • offer compensation.

Your case will first of all be looked at by an ‘adjudicator’ but if either you or your insurance company is unhappy with the outcome, it can be referred up the chain to an ‘Ombudsman’.

The Ombudsman’s decision is final and binding on your insurance company.

If you’re still not happy with it, you can still take the case to court, but you’ll have to pay a lot of expenses.

If the Ombudsman Service concludes you don’t deserve compensation then it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll win.

Do you need an ‘expert’ to help with your insurance complaint?

No. You shouldn’t need any special help or support if you complain.

Also, the Ombudsman Service is a free and informal service and they prefer to hear from you in your own words.

Everyone has the right to have someone else to act on their behalf.

Some people might like to have someone from their local  Advice NI office or a relative or friend to help them with their complaint.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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