global insurance management

Complaint Handling


Aug 22 2013

Complaint Handling

Reason for issue:         Update and reminder.

Action required:           Read and ensure your CPD record in your Training Log is updated.

Subject:

Complaint Handling

Date:

August 2013

No matter how hard we might try, it is likely that at some stage we will be faced with a complaint from one of our customers and we must be in a position to resolve the matter in the best way possible.

Ensuring that firms treat their customers fairly is at the heart of the FCA’s consumer protection agenda. They consider it to be vital that customers know that if something goes wrong, their complaint will be dealt with in a reasonable way and that they will get a fair outcome.

So, what is a "complaint"?

A complaint is defined by the FCA as:

  • “any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction – whether justified or not – about any financial services activity provided or withheld by a firm, where the complainant has suffered financial loss (or may do in the future), material distress or material inconvenience.”

Complaints may be oral or written.

Remember also that the complaint may be made on behalf of the customer by some other person or firm acting on their behalf.

Are there regulatory requirements in respect of complaints handling?

The FCA expects us to deal properly with any reasonable complaint made by a customer, whatever the subject matter of the complaint.  Therefore, we are required to have appropriate and effective procedures in place for dealing with complaints and these procedures must be written down.

We must publicise the availability of our complaints procedure and, under certain circumstances, inform complainants of their right to refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

In this respect, most firms are likely to include a paragraph in their Terms of Business document that is issued to consumers and the following is a typical example:

Complaints

It is our intention to provide a high level of service at all times.  However if you have reason to make a complaint about our service you should contact the Complaints Director at the above address.  If we are unable to resolve your complaint satisfactorily, you may be entitled to refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).  Further information is available by calling the FOS on 0845 080 1800 or at http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

Who can complain?

All complaints will be handled according to our procedures but only those identified as “eligible complainants” will be able to refer their case to the FOS, if they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of our investigation.

An eligible complainant is:

  • A consumer (private individual);
  • A micro-enterprise (an EU term – a business with a turnover below Euros 2M and fewer than 10 staff);
  • A charity with annual income of less than £1m;
  • A trustee of a trust with less than £1m net asset value.

Complaint Handling Procedures

Under the current FCA rules, firms are required to try and resolve any complaints at the earliest opportunity and they have up to eight weeks in which to do this. The eight weeks start from the date a complaint is received.

We have written procedures that include some timescales for our actions and all members of the firm must follow these when handling complaints.  Each individual will have a part to play in the successful resolution of a complaint raised by or on behalf of one of our customers.  Everyone should familiarise themselves with these procedures.

Please note; the following is only a summary of our Complaint Handling Procedures:

  • If a complaint is received, the matter should be referred to the nominated person who will handle it to resolution.
  • The complaint will be recorded in our Complaints Register, which tracks the progress and resolution.
  • Within 5 working days of receipt of a complaint, we must send a letter confirming the name of the person who will be dealing with the complaint, together with a summary of our Complaint Handling Procedures. This is our Acknowledgement Letter.  If by this time we have been able to resolve the complaint this will also be our Final Response Letter.
  • We will investigate the circumstances surrounding the complaint fairly and promptly.
  • We will keep the complainant or their representative informed throughout the processing of their complaint.
  • Within 4 weeks of receipt of the complaint, we will endeavour to conclude our investigation and provide a Final Response Letter.  If, however, we are not in a position to do so, we will write to the complainant explaining why we are not yet in a position to resolve their complaint and give an indication of when we will make further contact.
  • Within 8 weeks of receipt of the complaint, we will endeavour to conclude our investigation and provide a Final Response Letter. If, however, we are still not in a position to do so, we will again write to the complainant:
  • explaining why we are still unable to give a final response;
  • giving reasons for the delay;
  • indicating when we expect to issue our Final Response; and
  • providing details of any right they may have to refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service, together with a copy of the relevant FOS leaflet.
  • If referral is to be made to the FOS, it will not affect their legal rights but the complainant must make the referral within 6 months of the 8-week deadline or receipt of the Final Response, letter, whichever is sooner.  Further information on the Financial Ombudsman Service can be found on their website at: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
  • We will analyse the causes of complaints to help improve our customer relationship, where necessary.

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