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ombudsman news

issue 142

October 2017

FAQs about PPI - complaining about PPI

The deadline to complain about mis-sold PPI is 29 August 2019. Here are answers to some questions we’re often asked most about PPI and complaining about it.

why is the business asking about my health now I’ve complained about PPI?

It might seem like a personal question when a business asks about an illness or medical condition you may have had in the past. But there’s a good reason that they might do this. Many PPI policies excluded cover for “pre-existing medical conditions”. Businesses should have taken this into account if they were giving you advice about taking out the PPI – and they should have explained it too.

So if the business now thinks they didn’t do this when they sold PPI, they might ask about your medical conditions at that time. Then they can work out if the exclusions would have applied to you – and weigh up whether the PPI was right for you, and if you’d have bought it if you’d known about the exclusions.

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can I complain about a joint PPI policy?

Sometimes PPI covers more than one person. For example if you were sold PPI on a mortgage taken out with a partner the PPI might have covered both of you. We look at these complaints all the time – we’ll just need to make sure we have all the relevant information.

Before we can look at a PPI complaint, we’ll need permission from all the people who took out the PPI and the product it was sold with. So if you took out a mortgage or loan in joint names with your partner that was covered by PPI, for example, then you would both need to give us permission to look into things for you. This is the case even if the PPI only covered one of you.

If the PPI covered you both, then as well as permission to look into the complaint, we’d also need to know about both your circumstances at the time the policy was sold.

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can I complain about PPI on behalf of someone else I know?

You might know a friend or family member who’s nervous about complaining – or for some other reason, wants you to represent them.

If so, we’ll just need them to tell us they’ve given you their permission. If you’re at the stage of complaining to the business, they’ll need you to do the same thing.

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can I still complain about mis-sold PPI if I made a claim on the policy?

You can still complain to a business about mis-sold PPI if you made a claim on the policy – for example if you couldn’t work because of ill health or because you lost your job. But, if your complaint is upheld, it’s likely the money that was paid out as a result of your claim will be taken off any refund you get.

In general, we think this is a fair thing for businesses to do. Think of it this way – when we uphold a complaint that PPI was mis-sold, we normally tell the business to put you in the position you would have been in if you’d never been sold PPI in the first place. This means you’d never have had the policy to make a claim on. So if the policy did pay out, it’s only fair to take that money off the refund of everything you paid.

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I was sold PPI in the 1990s – is it too late to complain about it?

We’ve looked at plenty of complaints where policies were sold in the 1990s, or even earlier. In general, you can complain about things that happened up to six years ago – or if it gives you more time, within three years of when you knew, or should have known, that you had a reason to complain. But remember, the FCA has now set a specific deadline of 29 August 2019 for complaints about PPI.

And bear in mind that for some people, the deadline might be earlier than that. For example, if your bank wrote to you in August 2015 to say that they might have mis-sold you PPI – and that you should contact them if you wanted them to look into it – then you might only have until August 2018 to complain. So if you’ve got concerns about PPI, it’s important to act quickly.

And remember, once a business has given you their final answer, you have six months to bring your complaint to the ombudsman service if you’re unhappy.

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if I need to go to the ombudsman service, what information will you need?

We’ll need to know why you don’t agree with the answer you’ve got from the business – and as much detail as you have about your PPI and what happened when it was sold.

But we won’t expect you to present a “case” against the business. It’s our job to look into what’s happened, and to ask for information from both sides if we need it. There’s no need to use a claims management company – who’ll take a cut of any compensation you might get.

Whether you’re complaining online, over the phone or by post, we’ll need some basics to get started. For example, we’ll need your contact details and your permission to look into your complaint. We also have a PPI questionnaire – designed to help you explain more about your PPI, and why you think it was mis-sold. It’s important for us to know about your circumstances at the time – such as your job – so we can check things like whether you were covered by any PPI you had.

It helps if you have as much information ready as possible when you come to us – that way we’ll be able to get your complaint moving faster. But remember to let the business know as much as possible when making your initial complaint. It will help them when they’re looking into things – and also save time later if you do need to bring your complaint to us.

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can you still help me with my PPI if I’ve got a debt plan in place?

We speak to many people who are, or have been, in debt. For example, you might have a debt management plan, a debt relief order, an individual voluntary arrangement, or have been declared bankrupt (in Scotland this is called “sequestrated”).

This doesn’t automatically mean we can’t help you with your PPI complaint – but there may be some practical implications. If you have an insolvency practitioner or official receiver you should speak to them before making a complaint. In some cases you might need their permission to complain – or they might need to complain on your behalf.

We can’t look into disputes between people and their official receivers or their insolvency practitioners, though. So if they’ve told you they’re using your PPI refund to reduce what you owed from your bankruptcy or IVA, we won’t be able to change that.

Importantly, even if you don’t get any money back from your complaint – for example, if it all went to pay your debts in your IVA – if you use a claims management company to complain, you might still need to pay them.

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Image: Charlie Sweeney
lead ombudsman and director of casework
Charlie Sweeney
lead ombudsman and director of casework

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.