For every complaint an insurance company receives, a lot more potential complaints are not made either through apathy, lack of confidence in the process or just “not getting around to it.”
Insurance companies are big beasts and as such they are inevitably going to get things wrong. I always believed that a true mark of a company was not so much what it had done to generate a complaint, but how it dealt with the complaint and the effort it made to impress a dissatisfied client.
There is little point in telling all your friends and family how bad your experience has been, without telling the company direct. It may seem hard to believe, but without customer feedback the people running the company may never get to be aware just how lousy their systems or service are and therefore never get the chance to improve things.
Obviously your desire to complain is not fueled entirely by altruism, and is instead centred on your desire to be adequately recompensed for whatever mess occurred. This can take the form of financial compensation, putting the administration right or just an acknowledgement of the problem with an apology.
It doesn’t matter why you are complaining or what it is about, the strategy you should use is the same:
Keep it to the point
Keep it polite
Keep it going until you are satisfied
Keep It To The Point
Don’t ramble, repeat or go off on tangents.
When making a complaint, always do it in writing. The only reason for using the phone is to get a name and/or an address to write to. This information should be on policy documents and the company website anyway so I’m even doubtful about using the phone for this purpose!
Before writing the letter, make some notes on what the most important part(s) of your complaint are. These should include:
- A brief outline of what has happened
- Your name and policy number
- Relevant dates
- Any names you have had contact with and when
- Details of any promises made to you, when and by whom
- What you want to put things right
- An accurate statement of costs you may have incurred
- oh yeah…put the word “COMPLAINT” clearly at the top of your letter
This list is not exhaustive as each case is different, but these are the main points the company will be looking for.
Once you have made your notes, put them in a logical order and write your letter, use bullet points if you are happy to do so. They are short, punchy and easy to refer back to.
Don’t go on and on about how you feel, or the effect it has had on you and the world in general. If you are upset or annoyed then say it. But just the once. Don’t write paragraphs about how you have a nephew working in insurance and therefore you know all about the product/company/micro fiscal policy etc.. It has no relevance and can possibly slow the process down
Keep It Polite
Never. I mean never, use language you mum would be upset at. Never make it personal, and never threaten (unless it is just pointing out you can take the matter to the ombudsman. Which they really should know already!)
Keep it Going…
Although it is a bit shoddy, some companies may use a standard reply to your first approach. You may feel it is a tad woolly and doesn’t address address your concerns properly. Don’t give up! Take the time to write again, reiterating your points and highlighting where you think they have failed to address them.
Follow the Process
It might be a pain, but if you follow a prescribed process, it will speed things up – eventually! All companies have set complaints procedures and required time limits to do certain things. If a step is missed, it is like playing snakes and ladders and you will be taken back a few places in order to tick the required box.
If there was one “tip” that is more important than any other it is…
Keep a copy of everything…You WILL need it!
Still Not Happy?
You must give your provider the opportunity to resolve your issue. Sometimes though, this just doesn’t happen. If you get to the point where the company flatly rejects your complaint, you can then go to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Do not go to them any earlier, if you do, they will just refer you back to your company as it will be seen as still being a dispute with them.
The Financial Ombudsman Service is independent and free to use. They have a great website http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm which is simply laid out and easy to follow. The biggest downside is that they receive about 5000 enquiries a day so their workload is large. Be prepared to wait several months for the matter to be concluded.