The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) received a total of 271,468 new complaints and resolved 295,596 cases during 2019/20, according to newly published analysis of its annual data for the year. Ombudsman’s decisions stood at 29,746. Payment protection insurance once again provided the largest source of complaints for the Ombudsman. Members may access the complaints data by clicking here.
Insurance complaints remained relatively steady throughout the year and overall were down by 12% to 59,659 cases, according to the analysis. The uphold rate for insurance complaints received by the FOS stood at 30%, with the most complained about product being motor cover (9,690 cases). Two winter storms and the collapse of an insurer that specialised in providing black cab policies, caused a spike in the FOS casework early in 2020.
The FOS said that while new travel insurance complaints were down by 30% year-on-year, they still represented a large part of its insurance casework. As in banking and credit, only a handful of Covid-19-related complaints had reached the FOS before the end of March 2020. The contact received to date from people looking for relevant information, meant that that the FOS expected to see more pandemic related cases in 2020/21.
The FOS had also been able to handle financial complaints affecting small and medium-sized (SMEs) businesses since 1 April 2019 and had seen 215 new disputes during that year, with the most complained about products being banking. SME complaints had increased steadily during the year. The Ombudsman noted that complaints came from a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, shops and consultancies. Some of the larger SMEs presented similar complaints to some of the smallest, which the FOS said was evidence that businesses struggled with similar issues regardless of how big they were. Business customers were also found to have experienced many of the same problems that individual consumers had, but that the impact of a complaint was often more severe for businesses because it required valuable time and resources to resolve it.
Alongside its complaints data, the FOS also published its strategy document, Taking us to 2025: Our Strategy, in which it set out its future direction. This strategy had been created in discussion with stakeholders as part of its plans and budget cycle. The Ombudsman said it had received input and support from a range of stakeholders, which was invaluable in helping it set a clear direction for its future planning and thinking. These plans included: enhancing the service provided so that it set the standard for modern, efficient, accessible alternative dispute resolution; working collaboratively with others to find new and better ways of using its insight to prevent complaints and unfairness arising; and building an organisation with the capabilities that were needed for the future.
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