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21 May 2021

Regulatory Spotlight on Fair Value Places Complaints Handling Firmly Under the Microscope

The FCA consultation into the fair value of insurance has shone a bright light on the issue of the pricing of personal lines products.

To date, much of the regulatory focus has been on renewal pricing and how price walking, or gradually increasing renewal rates over time, is having a detrimental impact on consumers.

To combat this, the regulator is set to introduce new rules that mean insurers won't be able to charge renewing customers a higher price than what they charge for new business, a move that the FCA says could save consumers as much as £4.2bn over the next 10 years.

But the value of insurance is about much more than just the price of a policy, and the regulator is already consulting on insurers being required to publish data on certain value measures to help consumers with their purchasing.

This means that understanding these measures will become a particularly key task for both insurers and brokers looking to demonstrate the value of their products, with claims and complaints handling among their chief concerns.

Our latest analysis has revealed that complaints about the insurance claims process have reached a new high.

During the first three months of 2021, complaints referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) totalled more than 5,500*, with 82% relating to claims. This means that there were in excess of 4,600 claims-related complaints referred to the FOS over the first quarter of 2021, well over double the almost 2,000 claims complaints from the same period a year earlier.

Indeed, since the second quarter of 2017, almost 78% of all complaints have related to the claims process, with 19% relating to policy admin and 3% to sales and advice.

Over that same period, the FOS has found in favour of the customer approximately 30% of the time on complaints about claims, meaning that a large proportion of the time insurance companies are not providing their customers with a fair claims experience.

The increased regulatory scrutiny facing insurance companies as a result of this consultation means that those insurers and brokers performing poorly on these measures will be called out for all to see.

The FCA itself has said that complaints about claims are a particularly important indicator of how products are performing, so understanding such complaints data is going to become an increasingly important challenge for brokers and insurers alike.

This means that insurance providers looking to demonstrate real value to their customers will need to work to improve their performance when it comes to complaints handling, and the first step on this journey is to understand where your weaknesses lie.

The complaints data featured on the new Insurance DataLab insight platform allows users to benchmark performance against competitors across a number of different product lines, all broken down by complaint type.

The platform can also help brokers to better understand which providers are offering a superior service when it comes to complaints handling, meaning that you can say with confidence that the insurers you are partnering with are delivering a fair value on their insurance policies.

To delve deeper into the customer experience performance of the biggest providers in the personal lines market, Insurance DataLab is publishing a new research report ranking insurers and brokers on a number of different metrics. A free digital version of this report will be sent to all of our newsletter subscribers. Register to receive our newsletter here.

*Figures relate to complaints about general insurance providers only, and cover the 111 insurance companies about which Insurance DataLab holds Financial Ombudsman Service complaints data. Data was sourced via a Freedom of Information request.

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