Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Financial Ombudsman Service starts getting virus related complaints

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Financial Ombudsman Service starts getting virus related complaints

On 8 April 2020, the FOS said in its 2020 budget report that the coronavirus outbreak will add to the complexity of its caseload.

The FOS said that it has already received complaints related to the crisis, which has now infected nearly two million people worldwide. ‘These cases have so far ranged from disputes over insurance claims made as a result of the pandemic, including travel and business protection insurance, to concerns around lenders’ treatment of customers unable to pay mortgages and other debts’, the FOS said in the report.

The FOS also said it expects to see a 12% rise in new complaints this year about pensions and other investments. The FOS has been fielding an increasing number of complaints about pension funds since the government introduced controversial legislation in 2015 that allowed savers to move their money around more freely. The pensions freedom legislation allowed advisers to prey on savers by convincing them to move their pension pots out of defined benefit schemes and into riskier investments.

On 7 April 2020, the FCA said that fraud has increased since the UK government introduced the new rules. The relaxation of the rules meant that consumers were given ‘additional responsibility for complex investment decisions’.

The FOS’s report comes after the FCA announced on 7 April 2020 that the FOS would increase fees by 83%, from £45.9m to £83.9m.

The FOS said it needs to increase its fees because the cases it is handling are becoming more complex, and this trend will continue with the expected spike in coronavirus related complaints.

The coronavirus outbreak has greatly affected the insurance and financial services industries. Almost half of major insurers in the UK have pulled travel insurance products amid the chaos, consumer rights group Which? said in April.

The government hs urged insurers to clarify their positions on coverage during the outbreak, and the FCA wrote to insurers this month urging them to show fairness and flexibility when assessing claims connected to coronavirus.

The Central Bank of Ireland has instructed insurers to prioritise the interests of consumers after being called on to intervene by a consumer rights group.

This content is based on an article first published by Law360, a LexisNexis® company, on 9 April 2020 and is published with permission.

Further information can be found at: https://www.law360.com/insurance-uk (subscription required).

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