Today marks three months since the Legal Ombudsman began handling complaints against claims management companies (CMCs), so its head of claims management complaints, Simon Tunnicliffe, explains why he believes it is so important that the Ombudsman continues to support the claims management industry to improve its customer service.
When you pay for a service you expect it to be satisfactory. Our view is that claims management companies (CMCs) are not all bad, but those that are have given the industry a bad name.
So whose side are we really on – consumers or CMCs? Well, the answer is simple: neither. We are completely impartial, and I'll explain why.
The Legal Ombudsman taking on claims management complaints is an important step forward for protecting consumer rights and bringing more awareness to customer service.
Before 28 January 2015, if you received poor service from a CMC there was nowhere you could go; now you can come to us and we have the authority to put things right.
But in order to really protect consumers from receiving poor service, we must go beyond simply investigating complaints. We want to work with the claims management industry to share our findings, share case studies and show them what good looks like so that we can improve standards across the industry and stop poor service occurring in the first place.
We must remain impartial and fair to both sides in order to assess if a complaint is valid. There are good CMCs out there, so if we don't feel you have received poor service, we will explain why.
Where we do find poor service, we attempt to resolve the complaint informally by mutual agreement. Where this is not possible, the complaint is referred to an ombudsman who will make a final decision. The ombudsman's decision is legally binding, and therefore the CMC must comply with what the decision says.
It is still early days, but we are off to a good start. We are seeing some really interesting cases, and we are helping consumers in lots of ways.
What complaints can we look into?
Claims management companies offer complaints handling services on a range of areas, including:
- Financial products and services
- Personal injury
- Housing disrepair
- Criminal injury compensation
- Industrial injury disablement benefits
And we can look at a range of complaints relating to these services, including:
- Failure to keep you informed
- Failure to advise
- Cost disputes
If you want to complain about your CMC, follow three simple steps
- Complain to your CMC first so it has an opportunity to resolve your complaint. We have templates available on our website if you need guidance on how to write a formal complaint.
- Give it eight weeks to resolve the complaint. Once it sends you a final response (even if this falls within eight weeks), if you are still unhappy, contact us. If it fails to respond or to resolve the complaint within eight weeks, then contact us.
- Get in touch. We will discuss the complaint with you to check it is within our timeframes, we will ask you some questions about the company and we will ask you to share with us documents that have been exchanged between you and your CMC so we can look at how it responded to your complaint.
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