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Insurance complaints – FOS predicts 44,300 in 2024

You're always entitled to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if your insurance provider has mistreated you. Find out about common complaints and how to complain about your insurer in our full breakdown.

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 6 February 2024

7 min read

Insurance complaints – FOS predicts 44,300 in 2024

If you live in the UK and experience issues with your insurance company, bank, or mortgage lender, then you can get free support from the Financial Ombudsman Service or ‘FOS’. They offer free and impartial advice, and can even order compensation to be paid if they feel that you’ve been mistreated.

The latest FOS complaints data predicts that they expect to receive 44,300 complaints from unhappy insurance customers during 2024 and moving into 2025.

There are loads of reasons why you might want to complain about an insurance provider, and you are well within your rights to do so if you’ve been mistreated. But with the overall number of complaints about financial services expected to rise to 181,300 (from 179,000), we’re asking what insurance companies can do better to avoid upsetting and mistreating policyholders.

Here we are focusing mainly on life insurance and health insurance, and why customers might need to complain about their policy or provider – plus how and when to submit a complaint.

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60-Second Summary – Insurance complaints – FOS predicts 44,300 in 2024

If a company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), they have to treat all their customers fairly by law. If they fail to do so, then consumers have the right to submit a complaint to them and then to escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman Service fi they’re still not satisfied.

  • UK residents experiencing problems with insurance, banking, or mortgages can seek free support from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which provides impartial advice and can order compensation if they’ve been mistreated or mis-sold.
  • You should try and speak to your insurance provider before complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service where possible – they usually have 8 weeks to resolve a complaint before you can escalate it to the FOS.
  • If you’re not satisfied with how your provider has handled your complaint, complaints can be escalated to the FOS. The FOS offers support through various channels including online forms, telephone, and email.
  • Keep hold of your reference number if you do complain to the FOS, as you can use this to chase where your complaint is up to and what is happening.

A lot of consumers are now (rightly) better informed about their rights and what to do if they are unhappy with their insurance provider, due to people like Martin Lewis and websites like MoneySavingExpert.com – as well as our experts here at MPO.

One of the main reasons customers are expected to complain about insurance this year is due to increasing costs. A major issue is that reducing monthly premiums can lead to reduced cover but not all customers are fully aware of this, and this isn’t always explained properly to them.

The Financial Conduct Authority also brought in stricter rules last year about how customers should be treated (known as ‘Consumer Duty’ regulations). This means that insurance companies and other financial businesses need to be much more careful over how they treat customers or they risk being fined.

While most companies will follow these rules, some of them will not, either intentionally or because of a mistake. The only area where the Financial Ombudsman expects to receive more complaints than for insurance this year is from banking and consumer credit agencies.

What other complaints do the Financial Ombudsman Service predict for 2024?

The Financial Ombudsman have predicted that there will be around 2,300 more complaints received over 2024/25 compared to 2023/24. This across all areas including banking and personal finance, mortgages and insurance.

Most of these complaints expected to be around affordability (specifically mortgages becoming less affordable), scams and fraud, as well as general customer service issues.

  • 2,100 extra complaints are expected from banking and consumer credit customers (up to 122,600 this year from 120,500)
  • Insurance companies are expected to receive the second highest number of complaints (44,300 up from 43,200 last year)
  • Less complaints are expected from investments and pensions customers with the forecast showing 13,900 compared to 14,800 in 2023/24
  • The FOS also thinks they will receive around 500 ‘other complaints’ which will most likely come from claims management companies and funeral plan providers

A lot of complaints are likely to be due to delays in claims payments which is something the Ombudsman have already started to address. Their aim for this year is to resolve all these complaints within 5 months at most.

It’s sad to see so many consumers having to submit complaints about their insurance policies or providers, especially when Consumer Duty rules were brought in last year to promote better treatment for consumers.

Here’s some changes that we at MPO think would significantly improve outcomes for customers in 2024:

  • Better communication: Insurers need to make sure that they communicate clearly with customers and those customers fully understand the policies they buy and what any changes would mean for their cover.
  • Fair and faster claims process: All claims should be assessed fairly and without unnecessary delays
  • Listening to customer feedback: Companies need to listen to feedback receive and make changes – especially if feedback is negative

Financial services businesses must treat customers fairly if they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and if they don’t, the Financial Ombudsman Service can step in to help.

If you’re having trouble with a regulated financial company and they’re not fixing the issue, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. All you will need to do is fill in a complaint form and the Ombudsman will speak to the company on your behalf to find out what has happened.

The FOS then use this evidence to decide if any mistreatment has happened and often companies will simply give you what you have asked for once you have gotten the FOS involved.

Examples of common insurance complaints in the UK include:

  • Being ‘mis-sold’ a policy where you have been given wrong information
  • Your insurer refuses to pay out when you think they should
  • The insurance company has made changes to the policy without telling you
  • Reducing the cost of the policy without being fully aware of how this may change the level of cover

This video explains more about who the Financial Ombudsman Service are and what they do to help consumers in the UK.

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service

According to data published by the FOS last year, the top 5 most complained about financial products in the UK are:

  • Current accounts (26,039 complaints) – A type of bank account used for everyday expenses where money can be withdrawn or transferred easily.
  • Credit cards (14,504 complaints) – Payment cards which allow users to buy products or services using credit, which they repay at a later point.
  • Car/motorcycle insurance (11,851 complaints) – An insurance policy which protects the owner/user of a car or motorcycle in the event of incidents like car accidents, damage or theft
  • Car hire (11,446 complaints) – A service in which you rent a car for a short period of time which can range from a few hours to a few weeks
  • Buildings insurance (6,497 complaints) – An insurance policy which protects a property owner against financial loss due to events such as fires, theft or even weather damage

Financial Ombudsman Service – Annual complaints data

From this is it is clear to see that most insurance complaints tend to be for policies like car insurance and buildings insurance, and policies like life, health and travel insurance aren’t mentioned. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any complaints, just that there aren’t enough to place these products in the top 5 ‘most complained about’ list.

Note: The Financial Ombudsman Service haven’t published the figures yet for 2023/24, so these figures are from their most recently published data for 2022/23.

By taking a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, you are essentially going ‘over the head’ of the insurance company. While it may take a little extra time on your end, many companies won’t want to deal with the Financial Ombudsman and will quickly agree to any compensation ordered without a fight.

It can also be considered as free alternative to taking the company to court, which could take months or even years and be very expensive. It’s important to note that complaining to the insurer or Financial Ombudsman doesn’t mean that you can’t take legal action in the future if you feel like that is needed.

It can be tempting to try and go straight to the Financial Ombudsman Service, especially if you have experienced very poor treatment from an insurance company. You will need to speak to your insurer first though and give them a chance to resolve things before the Ombudsman will step in.

The Financial Ombudsman is a free to use service, which provides extra support and advice if your insurance provider won’t do what they have promised or have badly treated you. In some cases, the FOS will order the company to pay you compensation if they think this is appropriate.

Businesses will have to pay fees though if the Financial Ombudsman Services receives more than 3 complaints about the same company. This would be a fee per case, which is £750 if the case requires an investigation.

If your insurance provider has treated you in a way that you aren’t happy with, you should definitely complain and complain as soon as possible. It’s always best to start the process as soon as you can, so your complaint is resolved sooner rather than later.

Don’t be put off if you complain and the insurance company reject your complaint – you can still go to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if the business you are complaining about is refusing to help you or you have been waiting longer than 8 weeks for a complaint to be addressed/resolved.

How to complain about your insurance company

To complain about your insurance company or policy, the best first step will be to talk to them directly. Insurance companies will generally have a complaints page on their website that will have all the information you need. If you can’t find this page, try calling a customer service phone number to see if they can pass your call over to the right department.

Insurance companies will have 8 weeks to deal with your complaint and make things right and you can normally tell them how you would like them to resolve your issue. If they won’t do this or are taking longer than expected, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service in the following ways.

Online Form: You can complete an complaints form which can be downloaded from the Financial Ombudsman Service website: Open FOS complaint form

By telephone: You can call the FOS helpline for free advice on either 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123 if you’re calling from within the UK. If you are calling from outside the UK, you can call 0207 964 0500.

By email: You can email complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk and you can also use this address to check the progress of any current complaints that you have submitted.

If you need help with a new or existing health or life insurance policy, you can speak to our trusted partners for free and independent advice. You can talk to them by calling 0800 009 6559 or by clicking here.

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