Rise in weather-related complaints keeps ombudsman busy
by Gill Montia
Complaints received by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) about weather-related insurance claims increased by one-third in 2007.
Since last summer’s flooding, insurers have been under pressure to deal with both the volume of weather-related claims and the financial losses incurred.
The 2007 floods are estimated to have cost the industry £3 billion, while claims from February’s earthquake and last week’s storms could be around the £30 million and £350 million mark respectively.
In the two financial years prior to April 2007, the FOS registered no increase in the number of weather-related complaints, however during the whole of 2007, the figure rose by 32%.
A spokeswoman for the FOS explains: “The biggest issue we are seeing in relation to storms is problems with repairs, rather than the whole claim being refused”.
The FOS believes that much of the increase can be attributed to the fact that insurers now appoint companies to undertake repairs, rather than writing a cheque to cover the damage.
Complaints include unreasonable delays in dealing with claims, unhelpful attitudes of loss adjusters, not providing full information on the extent of cover, difficulties in replacing items such as furniture, and the poor selection of building contractors.