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Insurance: One method that works to make insurers pay claims

Insurance insurer Cropped shot of Asian woman sitting at dining table, handling personal finance with laptop. She is making financial plan and planning budget as she go through her financial bills, tax and expenses at home. Wealth management, banking and finance concept
Insurance customers complained to insurers about speed of service, disputes over policy wording and mis-selling and administrative errors. Photo: Getty

Taking the time to complain to an insurer can lead to customers receiving hundreds or even thousands of pounds as insurance providers accept claims.

A survey by consumer body Which? found that almost one in 10 of its members had raised an insurance complaint during the past two years.

The reasons for complaints were varied, with causes including speed of service, disputes over policy wording and mis-selling and administrative errors, with one member being overcharged by £1,000 when payment for their travel insurance was mistakenly taken twice from their bank account.

Other customers believed that they had been unfairly rejected for claims, such as one member whose house was burgled of £7,000 worth of jewellery while they were in the paddock at the end of the garden. The underwriter initially concluded the owner was technically off their property and had not adequately secured it. However, following the complaint this decision was reviewed and the claim was accepted.

Read more: Surge in ‘advance fee’ scams costing victims £711 on average

The survey found that four in 10 (42%) members who made a complaint had it upheld, while one in three (34%) did not.

Which? said that those who do complain may receive compensation as a result. A quarter of members who had complained to their insurer in the past two years received money, with the majority receiving £200 or less. In the first half of 2022, insurers paid out more than £83m in redress ⁠— an average of £161 per upheld complaint.

Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: “Consumers shouldn’t put up with bad customer service at any time, but when the rising cost of living is putting severe pressure on household budgets, it’s even more important.

“Our research shows that if your insurer is not up to scratch, it pays to complain. Taking the time to read the small print before renewing is also key, as you might find you’re not covered for certain eventualities.”

Read more: Eight ways to get cheaper insurance

Recent data from the Financial Conduct Authority found that half of insurance complaints were resolved within three days. Less than one in 10 (6%) complaints took longer than eight weeks to resolve ⁠— the time firms have to deal with your complaint before you can escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The consumer body is urging insurance customers to make sure they read the small print before signing up to policies so they are not caught out when it comes to making a claim.

Watch: How to save money on a low income