How to complain about your financial services provider

The Financial Ombudsman Service is anticipating higher caseloads from mortgage borrowers and insurance customers next year - here is how to complain if you are unhappy with a financial product or service

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Complaints from bank and insurance customers are predicted to rise next year as households navigate scams and increasing premiums for car and travel insurance.

It comes as the cost of living crisis is making people more susceptible to fraud, while households are trying to make every penny count with the products and services they pay for.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) – which deals with public complaints against providers such as banks, insurers and pension companies - has predicted it will deal with 181,300 cases next year.

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That is up from 179,000 this year and 165,149 in 2022.

Most complaints are forecast to come from bank and insurance companies, while fewer issues are expected to be raised about investments and pensions.

Here is why issues may come up with your bank and insurance company next year and how to complain.

The main causes of financial complaints

An increasing number of people with bank accounts, loans and mortgages are expected to raise issues with their provider next year.

The FOS is expecting 122,600 complaints about bank accounts and consumer credit in 2024, up 1.7%.

This is attributed to a continued rise in disputed transaction due to the increasing volume and sophistication of fraud and scams.

It is also expecting a “slight increase” in complaints about mortgages, predominately led by interest rate rises as fixed term deals come to an end.

Drivers and holidaymakers are also expected to complain about higher insurance premiums and claim delays.

The FOS has forecast 44,300 insurance complaints next year, up from 43,200 in 2023.

The redress scheme said complaints about car insurance will remain high “due to the increased costs and supply challenges around parts and labour,” while flight cancellations will cause more issues with travel insurance

It comes as Association of British Insurers data showed the average price for car insurance has increased 29% annually to £561 as of the third quarter of 2023.

Another potential issue is complaints relating to consumers reducing the cost of their insurance premiums to help with overall costs, without realising the impact this may have on the type or level of cover provided.

“Given the economic challenges people are facing, it’s more important than ever that they feel protected," says chief ombudsman Abby Thomas.

"Whatever their grievance, consumers should expect fair and reasonable treatment from their provider.

“If consumers don’t feel that’s the case, they can ask our free, independent service to investigate their complaint.”

How to complain about your financial provider

The FOS should be the last resort if you have a complaint about a regulated financial product or service.

The first step is to complain to your provider in writing either by email or letter to their complaints department.

You can only complain about regulated products provided by firms approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

That includes residential mortgages, insurance products, pensions and investments, although you can’t complain about stock market performance.

“Tell them what happened and when, and ask them to put things right,” says the FCA.

Providers need to give a response within eight weeks on if your complaint is successful, how it will be resolved or why they need more time to investigate.

If you are unhappy with the decision or have not had a response after eight weeks, you can then complain to FOS.

Complaint forms can be downloaded from the FOS website.

It will consider your issues and contact the financial firm to get their side before making a decision whether to uphold the complaint and award compensation.

The latest FOS data shows it upheld 35% of complaints in 2022.

There are no costs to complain to your financial provider or to the FOS.

Another option if you are unhappy with complaining to your financial provider or the FOS is to take legal action.

But this will cost you as you may need to pay for legal advice and cover court fees.

Claims management companies can also help with complaints on a no-win-no-fee basis but could take a large chunk of any compensation you receive.

 

 

Marc Shoffman

Marc Shoffman is an award-winning freelance journalist specialising in business, personal finance and property. His work has appeared in print and online publications ranging from FT Business to The Times, Mail on Sunday and The i newspaper. He also co-presents the In For A Penny financial planning podcast.