Following a change to our rules, National Savings & Investments customers can now refer disputes they may have to the Financial Ombudsman Service. In this issue we discuss the background to this significant development and outline the main differences in the way these complaints are now handled, compared with the previous arrangements.
We look, too, at some of the complaints we have dealt with recently involving annual travel insurance policies. We focus in particular on the difficult situation in which some customers can find themselves when they book a holiday that starts after their policy renewal date – but then suffer a change in their medical circumstances. When their policy comes up for renewal and they inform the insurer of the change in their health, the insurer may well tell them that – as of the date of renewal – they will not be covered for the new medical condition. The customer is then left either to run the risk of continuing with their holiday plans without insurance cover, or to cancel the trip prematurely – and often quite unnecessarily – at their own expense.
Under our rules there are a number of circumstances in which we are able to dismiss a complaint without considering its merits. In this issue we outline the circumstances that tend to crop up most frequently in the investment complaints we see. Our case studies include that of an investor whose complaint centred on the way in which a firm applied bonuses to a with-profits bond, and of a customer who brought a complaint to us that had already been resolved by a complaints-handling scheme in Ireland.
ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.
The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.