The Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Scheme’s Annual Report, released today, shows complaints have decreased in number, but increased in complexity.
The ISO Scheme investigated 254 complaints and responded to 3,057 complaint enquiries in 2014-2015.
“The complaints we are now investigating are more complex, and many of the straight-forward issues are being resolved earlier by our Participants,” says Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Karen Stevens. “This is a positive trend for the industry and its customers. Industry practice is changing for the better, so complaints can be resolved within the insurance or financial service provider’s own complaints processes. This is often assisted by our free enquiries service, used by customers of our Participants to seek information or guidance on issues from the ISO Scheme. We can help consumers to resolve these issues before they escalate into disputes.”
As the ISO Scheme celebrates its 20th year of resolving insurance & financial services complaints, Karen says the need for good communication has been a common theme.
“Preventing complaints is just as important as resolving complaints,” says Karen, “and communication with customers can always improve. If consumers understood more about financial products or services before signing the contract, many later problems could be avoided.”
The flipside of complaints, says Karen, is to view them as lessons for improving future conduct. “We draw on our 20 years of experience to provide our Participants with training to avoid future issues with their customers.”
But when things do go wrong, Karen says people shouldn’t hesitate to complain. “Our service is independent, impartial and entirely free for consumers.”
The greatest proportion of complaints to the ISO Scheme last year was in the general insurance category at 52%, which includes house, motor vehicle, travel and contents insurance. The second largest complaint category related to health, life and disability insurance, at 41%.
While Canterbury earthquake complaints decreased, there are still earthquake complaints being referred to the ISO Scheme, many now for facilitated settlements. In total, the ISO Scheme has dealt with more than 140 Canterbury earthquake complaints and 1,570 complaint enquiries since 2010.
The Annual Report Summary and full Annual Report are available from the ISO Scheme website: www.iombudsman.org.nz