Plans for insurers to join a new super-Ombudsman scheme for the financial services industry have been welcomed by the Association of British Insurers but not by the GISC, writes Mike Cooper.

The proposed shake-up involves transferring the existing responsibilities of the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau and those of other financial complaints investigators to a Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme.

This will be created following the passage of the Financial Services and Markets Bill through Parliament.

However, the GISC has expressed concern that the new ombudsman scheme's remit will exclude complaints from a majority of intermediaries and brokers.

GISC spokeswoman Catherine Nicholl said the membership fee has not taken into account the costs of setting up its own complaints system.

She said: "We are faced with the necessity of putting in place our own complaints handling arrangements as a stop-gap measure."

Under the plans, contained in a consultation paper, the FSO will be able to award compensation up to £100,000.

FSA regulated firms will have to publish their complaints policies and procedures, investigate all complaints promptly and effectively, and inform customers who have exhausted a company's own complaints arrangements of the new Ombudsman protocol. They will also have to record all complaints and send a summary of these to the FSA.

Christine Farnish, director of customer relations at FSA, said the new arrangements were "good news" for consumers. However she stressed: "With some notable exceptions, the financial services sector has some catching up to do when it comes to standards of customer service."