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ombudsman news

issue 30

August 2003

about this issue

Can policyholders claim under the "buildings" section of their home insurance for damaged laminate wood flooring - or is it covered as part of their "contents"- And what about a flat-packed conservatory - stored in boxes in the garage until the owner finds time to assemble it- Is it "contents" or "buildings"- We explore these and other home insurance posers in this month's issue which, as ever, illustrates the surprisingly broad range of disputes handled by the ombudsman service.

We take a look at the "safe custody" service offered by banking firms. This enables customers to store jewellery, documents and other valuable items on the bank's premises. The service does not give rise to large numbers of complaints, but those that do arise can be among the most tricky we have to deal with. We outline how we go about establishing the facts and resolving such disputes. We also set out some practical hints to help firms try and minimise the type of "safe custody" problems that can lead to disputes.

Mortgage endowment complaints continue to dominate the investment-related disputes referred to us. Our investment case studies this month include an unusual case where we decided that the wording of a firm's letter constituted an unequivocal guarantee that the customers' mortgage endowment policy would repay the mortgage. In another case, an adviser's hand-written note on a compliment slip incorrectly led a couple to believe that the life cover of £20,000, linked to their mortgage endowment policy, remained in force even though the couple had made the policy "paid-up".

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 30 [PDF format]

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.