On 19 April 2011, the Central Bank of Ireland (the “Central Bank”) published its findings on a review of the processes for complaints handling that are used by insurers that sell into the Irish market. The review looked at 600 complaints across 12 insurance companies.
The following were the primary findings of the report:
Requirement to provide a point of contact: The Central Bank found instances in all insurance companies reviewed where consumers were not provided with details of an individual point of contact until the complaint was resolved or could not be processed any further. Where a point of contact was not provided, the Central Bank found that consumers had to reiterate details of their complaints to a number of different individuals. This resulted in the complaints process becoming longer than necessary and led to further consumer dissatisfaction.
Information on the Financial Services Ombudsman: Six of the insurance companies reviewed did not inform the consumer of their right to refer the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman. In addition, consumers were not provided with the contact details of the Ombudsman. Failing to provide these details represents a breach of the Consumer Protection Code.
Requirement to acknowledge complaints in writing: Instances were found in all of the insurance companies reviewed where they did not acknowledge complaints in writing within five business days of the complaint being received. In some cases an acknowledgement was not issued at all while in other cases the acknowledgement was not issued within required timeframe of five business days. Failing to send the acknowledgement within five business days also represents a breach of the Consumer Protection Code.
The Central Bank has said that enforcement proceedings against a number of the insurance companies that were reviewed are currently being considered.