Belfast Telegraph

Insurance tops finance complaints

Almost 7,300 complaints were made against firms in the finance sector last year, the majority over insurance policies, it has been revealed.

There were 3,443 issues reported to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO) in 2011 about insurance companies, the first fall in a year and a half.

On the banking front, the office said there were 2,680 complaints from consumers.

Bill Prasifka, the ombudsman, said the difficulties of mortgage and related insurance areas are the main reason complaint levels remain so high.

"The industry must continue to change its practices in dealing with consumers and make genuine efforts to work with consumers before complaints are referred to the FSO. It is very clear that such engagement is to all parties' benefit," he said.

Overall the financial ombudsman received about 3,500 new complaints in the last six months of 2011 while during the year about one million euro in compensation was awarded to consumers. The names of the finance firms involved cannot be published under the ombudsman's rules.

Mr Prasifka said more than 40% of the complaints against banks relate to mortgages - 1,038, with 712 linked to accounts.

Only 63 complaints against lenders were upheld or partly upheld last year compared to 56 in 2010.

The numbers of successful complaints were even lower in the insurance sector - 47 upheld or partly upheld last year compared to 39 in 2010.

The FSO said the insurance sector continues to generate the most complaints, making up 47% of the total in the last six months of last year while 18% of insurance complaints related to payment protection and mortgage protection policies.

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