Numbers of complaints against each provider revealed

The Financial Ombudsman Service has published it complaints data showing general insurance is the second biggest area of complaints, mainly against banks.

Top 20 general insurance complaints

  • Lloyds TSB Bank 3466
  • Barclays Bank 2085
  • MBNA Europe Bank 1233
  • Bank of Scotland 1227
  • Royal Bank of Scotland 1013
  • Black Horse (Lloyds) 836
  • Welcome Financial Services 827
  • Aviva Insurance 669
  • HSBC Bank 621
  • National Westminster Bank (RBS) 582
  • Direct Line Insurance (RBS) 575
  • Alliance & Leicester (Abbey) 544
  • AXA Insurance UK 513
  • UK Insurance (RBS) 502
  • Egg Banking 481
  • Northern Rock 430
  • HFC Bank Limited (HSBC) 417
  • Clydesdale Bank 408
  • Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance 372
  • Churchill Insurance (RBS) 350

In terms of complaints upheld, the average was 70% and excluding the banks (probably PPI policies), Lloyds TSB insurance services was the worst with 92% and Lloyds TSB general Insurance scored 62%.

Co-operative Insurance (CIS) had 55% upheld CIS General Insurance had 53% upheld. To put that in context, CIS general insurance only received 54 complaints.

The FOS explained

During this six-month period, the ombudsman service received a total of 69,841 new complaints – of which 87% related to 142 financial businesses (out of more than 100,000 businesses covered by the ombudsman).

The number of new complaints about each of these individual businesses ranged from 31 to 8,283. Five banking groups each had more than 3,000 complaints which together accounted for 38,286 cases – more than half of all the new complaints received by the ombudsman during this six-month period.

Experts consulted by the ombudsman have been unable so far to agree how size (or market share) should be taken into account, when comparing complaints statistics across the financial services sector.

70% GI complaints upheld

The data published today shows that the ombudsman service upheld an average of 59% of complaints in favour of consumers. Across the 142 individual businesses included in the complaints data, this uphold rate varied substantially between 11% and 95%.

The ombudsman service upheld 61% of banking-related complaints, 41% of mortgage complaints, 70% of general-insurance complaints and 42% of investment-related complaints.

Improve complaints handling

Chairman, Sir Christopher Kelly, said: “The board of the Financial Ombudsman Service welcomes the publication of this detailed information, as part of our work to help financial businesses improve their complaints handling – and to reduce the number of unresolved disputes that have to be referred to the ombudsman service.

“I will now be writing to the chairmen of the financial businesses that generate the largest proportion of our complaints workload, to ask them to consider very carefully both their own complaints performance – as reflected in the data we are publishing today – and the complaints performance of their competitors.

Some better than others

Walter Merricks – who will be stepping down as chief ombudsman next month after ten years in the role – said: “The complaints data we are publishing for the first time today will help people to see how the financial businesses that are responsible for nine tenths of the ombudsman's workload deal with customer complaints. The data shows that some businesses are much better, and some much worse, at complaints handling.

“We have already been providing comparative complaints data on a private basis to the larger financial businesses – but this has led to no improvement in the standard of complaints handling by the worse-performing businesses. I believe that putting this information into the open will now give those worse-performing businesses vital encouragement to improve – which should mean fewer of their customers having to bring unresolved complaints to the ombudsman.