The IFSO is a free, independent service handling complaints from customers about financial service providers. The majority of the Covid-related enquires related to travel insurance and cancelled trips.
Listening to the consumer
Karen Stevens, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, said the focus on improving conduct and culture in the financial services sector may be helping to improve complaint management. “Only by listening to the consumer voice and responding with the correct information at the right time will complaints be managed effectively. We are noticing the complaints we refer back to insurers on behalf of complainants are being resolved more quickly and settled more often, which is a good sign in terms of the customer experience.
The importance of access to free and independent services is highlighted during times of stress and hardship, the organisation said. Twenty-five years of IFSO Scheme complaints create a wealth of information about how and when things go wrong.
Learning from complaints
Stevens said: “We share stories from real complaints to help more things go right. Our Annual Report includes examples – from cancelled travel to car accidents, dog troubles, storms, online romance scams, illness, death, and debt – all contain lessons for both consumers and industry. Every day we hear about issues that could have been avoided or better managed. Prevention is the aim.”
The next step is to learn from complaint issues and insights, Stevens added. “Misunderstanding and miscommunication continue to be common complaint themes. Communication and transparency are even more important in the current climate. During the Covid-19 lockdown, insurers responded quickly with a range of proactive options for customers, particularly for those facing hardship. Credit contract providers also acted quickly to restructure loans, defer payments and waive fees.”