Complaining – Is it worth it?

The other day I found myself reflecting on a complaint I made personally last summer; my son fell seriously ill when on a family holiday. The claim for the expenses we incurred is not yet settled and I am wondering if it is time to involve the FOS. Despite advising and steering many hundreds of professional insurance firms on a regular basis, I’ve found myself on the other end of the process and to be honest the whole experience was overly complicated, time-consuming, and not at all customer focused.

The Detail

We had a 5 star rated family insurance policy, but the insurers are saying it only covers an individual falling ill.

I complained several times to the insurer and eventually my concerns were investigated. Despite never receiving a copy of the firm’s complaints procedure and them failing on several occasions to keep to the dates they said they would respond, I received a final resolution a few weeks ago stating they will be standing firm on their decision not to pay the claim in full.

The situation was that my son spent several days in a hospital which was more than two hours travel time away from the resort we booked. So one can only imagine the day to day disruption we as a family faced in such worrying circumstances.

It did not help that it was high season and temperatures soaring into the 40’s daily. It was so difficult to find reasonably priced accommodation near the hospital and even more difficult to get support from the insurers at this time. We had to change our return flights and we spent little or no time at the resort. We tried very hard to mitigate our emergency costs however given the circumstances it was not our main priority. The insurers say these expenses are not covered for the family.

Did Complaining help?

Part of my claim was paid, but I’m unsure me complaining had anything to do that. If you are a business owner reading this, should you be thinking about how much influence your complaints function has (in real terms) over your business units? Are resolutions always assessed by a senior person in your business?

Involving FOS?

I’m reluctant to involve the FOS on my case mentioned here because I found the whole experience of claiming and complaining to the insurer psychologically draining; surely this is the opposite of how you would want your customers to think and behave, is it not?

I’m certain you recall an instance whereby you should have complained but did not? The FOS handled about 220,000 new complaints about insurance last year.

Are you doing enough?

Ultimately, it is whether the industry is really doing enough to understand a customer’s pain and carefully assess that grievance when they actually do decide to complain?

I fully appreciate that the FCA has done a lot of work in the complaints arena and even more so with improvements to alert customers on how to access a firm’s complaints process, but sadly I cannot help but think it is not access to making a complaint but the actual nature of an investigation as well as the experience of the complainant that really makes the difference.

Ask yourself, is your complaints process up to scratch?


If you would like to discuss this issue further, please contact a member of the RWA team.

About the author

Ash is Managing Director at RWA. He has over 15 years’ experience in the legal and compliance field and ten years in broker sales and leadership roles in national and global insurance firms.

He is highly skilled in the application of risk-based regulation, working closely with businesses at executive and board level to develop commercially viable, compliant systems and controls. Ash is adept in providing solutions-based interpretations of the FCA’s technical standards and facilitating the transfer of compliance skills and education needed for businesses to self-manage their own compliance and training needs.

Get RWA Insight In Your Inbox

Regular business news and commentary delivered direct to your inbox each week. Sign up here