Making a complaint against an insurance company

This month Paul Robertson looks at how to make a complaint about an insurance company and who is eligible to do so.

In this issue I am looking at complaints in respect of insurance and for that matter who can even make them. You may be quite surprised.

Policyholder
Obviously the policyholder has a right to complain and if the policy is issued in joint names, i.e. landlord, residents management company (RMC) and lessees, as is commonly required under tri-partite leases then any of these parties have full rights to the block of flats policy and therefore can make a claim or make a complaint against the insurer.

Complaints Process
The complaints process is always stated in the policy document and normally has three stages. Firstly it requires a complaint to be made via the usual insurance advisor, normally an insurance broker. If this leaves the matter unresolved you will be advised to write to the insurer directly and will give you a name and address for such. Normally it is for the attention of the chief executive but check the policy wording. When you complain you should ensure you clearly state the nature of your complaint and what you expect a reasonable outcome to be. The insurers is then obliged to send an early acknowledgement of the complaint and issue a final response within eight weeks. In the event they are unable to do so they must write and explain why laying out their proposals to resolve the matter.

Financial Ombudsman Service
If this still leaves the matter unresolved you have may have the right to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and ask them to review your complaint. If you do the outcome is binding on the insurer but not the policyholder. However only eligible complainants can access the FOS and in respect of blocks of flats buildings policies that means that the policyholder has less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 Million at the time of the complaint. In practice that will be most RMC’s RTM’s and small freeholders. The test is in Euros because it is based on European customer protection. A complaint to the FOS should only be made after an official compliant has been made to the insurer.

The big question however is can a lessee make a complaint to the insurer?
If they are not a joint insured then all of the above is not available to them. Even if their interest is specifically noted this doesn’t give them a right to the policy and therefore even lodge a claim, albeit many freeholders allow this to happen. So to access the complaints process of the block of flats insurance the lessee will need to complain to the insuring party who in turn will need to make the complaint.

Paul Robertson is the Managing Director of Midway Insurance and 1st Sure Flats

March 2018