Insurance

Complaints Against Insurance Companies: What You Need To Know

Many people get insurance cover for things such as their car, home or other personal belongings.

Getting an insurance policy allows you to be protected against dangers such as car accidents, theft, damage or even house fires. There are also life insurance policies that provide money if you die or are too sick to work. With insurance policies, customers can choose what they would like to be protected against and then select a suitable policy.

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While insurance has many benefits, some people experience problems with their insurance companies. For example, some customers have had their insurance company reject their claim or refuse to pay them what they are due. Some companies may have even paid less than what the customer has claimed for.

If you have a complaint against your insurance company, read our simple guide to find out everything you need to know!

Why make insurance complaints?
There are many reasons why you might be dissatisfied with your insurance company and the service they provide. For example, the insurance company might automatically renew your policy without your permission or your policy might not have been adequately explained to you in the beginning. Repair may not have been dealt with or conducted appropriately.

Once you make a complaint, the insurance company should consider it and see if they should provide you with compensation.

Do I need expert help to make an insurance complaint?
You do not need an expert to help you make a complaint against your insurance company. If required, you can get free support and advice from the Ombudsman Service who would prefer to hear from you directly.

If you would like, a friend or family member can help to support you while making your claim. You do have the right to have someone act on your behalf.

A free service such as the Citizens Advice Bureau also gives great help to customers seeking compensation.

How to make a complaint against your insurance company: step by step
If you need to make an insurance complaint, read our simple step by step guide for guidance. The process is relatively simple and using this guide; you can start by contacting your insurance company directly. If needed, you can also ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to consider your case as well.

The Financial Ombudsman Service
This is a free service that helps to settle disputes between customers and financial service organisations. It is estimated that they deal with approximately 5,000 issues every day.

Usually, you can seek help from the Financial Ombudsman Service after you have already followed your insurance company’s procedure for complaints.

You can go to them in the first instance for advice, however, note that they will only act after your insurance company has given you a final response. They should also respond within eight weeks.

Contacting your insurer
The first step in insurance complaints is to try your best to settle the issue informally. Make sure you know all of your rights because this can help to stop complaints from getting out of hand. Follow the right process and try to resolve any issues informally to start with.

This can involve making a simple phone call to the company’s customer service or helpline. If you used an insurance broker to buy your policy, then you can ask them to help you make your complaint. This will help to save any hassle.

When making phone calls, always take note of who you spoke to, when you talked to them and any information you were told. This will help in the instance of escalating your complaint formally.

Before writing an insurance claim, make sure to check your insurance policy to see if your claim will be under your policy. If your claim is protected by your policy, write to your insurance provider and give them all the details of your complaint. Let them know how you would like it to be dealt with and when you want to receive a reply. Save a copy of your original letter and also any you receive back from your insurance company.

Write a formal complaint
Use your insurance company’s formal complaints process if you are not happy with a response they have given you. Refer to any policy documents and also their website which should provide helpful advice.

If your insurance company is a member of Lloyds, you can complain to the Policyholder and Market Assistance Department.

How to write insurance complaints letters
When you write a formal insurance complaint letter, there are many things you should include. Make sure you put in: your full name and policy number, the date of your complaint and all evidence that supports your complaint.

Start by clearly and boldly marking your letter with “complaint” at the top. Write and explain why you are complaining. Tell your insurance company what has happened and why you are not happy with it. Let them know what you would like them to do to resolve the issue. Lastly, let them know that you will escalate the problem to the Financial Ombudsman Service if they do not respond appropriately. Try to keep the letter short and simple but detailed and precise.

Your insurance company should deal with your complaint within eight weeks so, make sure they understand your letter is a clear complaint. Allow them the time to respond and a chance to put the situation right before you take your complaint higher.

Keeping insurance documents
It is essential to keep a record of any documents that support your complaint. Keep a personal copy of any letters that you send or receive. Make sure also to note the phone calls that you had with your insurance company. These details will come in very handy if you need to use the insurance complaints ombudsman.

Taking your insurance complaint to the Ombudsman Service
Your insurance company should be covered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means they are under the rules of this financial watchdog. If your insurer’s formal complaints procedure has not resolved your issue, then you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service which is free to use.

The service will aim to mediate between both parties – you and your insurance company. If they are not successful in this, they will start to investigate the situation. Once they have finished investigating, they will make a decision for you which will bind your insurance company. Your insurer will have to listen to and act on any decisions from the Ombudsman Service. They have the power to make your insurance company pay you up to £150,000 in compensation for any inconveniences.

It is important to note that there are time limits for when you can take a complaint to the Ombudsman.

You should aim to complain within six months of getting a response from your insurance company. Your insurer should also have told you about the sixth month period.

You should also complain within six years of when the event took place. If it has been more than six years since the event you are complaining about, then you should complain within three years of when you know.

Do not worry if you were not able to complain during these time frames; the Ombudsman may still look into your case as long as your insurance company agrees. If the insurance company does not agree to this, then the Ombudsman cannot investigate any further.

Taking your insurer to court
If you have not been able to resolve your complaint using any of the previous steps, then you have the option to take your insurance company to court. It is essential to understand that taking your insurer to court should be used only as a last resort. This is because it can cost you money and may be stressful.

You can refer to the small claims court, but remember that they will take into consideration the decision of the Financial Ombudsman Service. The ruling might not be different, so it is well worth considering if you have a suitable case beforehand.

If you are claiming for £10,000 or less in England and Wales and £3,000 or less in Scotland and Northern Ireland, then you should utilise the small claims court procedure.

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