While I have some sympathy with "Snowball's plea to FSA" for a lighter regulatory touch (News, 22 March), I strongly feel that the FSA should more closely address Treating Customers Fairly in the area of claims handling, particularly for household customers.
Mr Snowball's company is in the vanguard of abrogation of responsibility for claims handling by supporting the widespread use of third party claims handlers, singled out by the 2006 Financial Ombudsman's annual report as the most significant area of customer dissatisfaction.
A member of my own staff had a serious water ingress to her home from the flat above, bringing down a ceiling. This claim was reported to Norwich Union on 20 March but it was three days before its third party claims handler made contact, and the earliest that its appointed surveyor could attend to assess the damage would be 12 April!
This would be laughable if it weren't what we have come to expect. I have another client still collecting water in buckets following genuine storm damage in early January. Zurich Insurance failed to take any action, other than suggest (after over two months procrastination) that the damage to this two-year old house was the result of "a design fault".
Contract certainty? The only thing you can be sure of is that the "contract" may prove less than reassuring when comes the time to claim. Instead of deluging our customers with reams of paper and insisting that the industry spend millions adding a little 'r' to the Key Facts logo, the FSA would do well to monitor the lamentable standards of service provided by third party claims handlers and contractors, and insist upon complaints procedures that do more than send out a glossy brochure within a stipulated number of days.
Frankly, I'm sick and tired of apologising for Norwich Union and others on a virtually daily basis. Service industry? You must be joking!"
Duncan Woodcock, Managing director, Reid Hamilton & Co. Ltd