Canadian Underwriter

Insurance elicits bulk on consumer inquiries to ombuds service

February 6, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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General insurance was responsible for the most inquiries to the new financial services ombuds service in is first full year of operation. According to the first annual report of the Centre for the Financial Services Ombudsnetwork (CSFON), 41% of its consumer inquiries were related to general insurance, and almost 60% of its complaints.
The network includes the General Insurance OmbudService (GIO), as well as services for life & health, and banking and investments. Overall, 888 inquires were fielded, and 3,513 complaints. Of those complaints, 2,008 were with regards to p&c insurance.
The bulk of complaints were forwarded to company-level contacts, and overall, only 7% of calls were forwarded to the individual ombuds services. 3% of referrals made their way to regulators, the CFSON reports, and in 2% of cases, the consumer was advised to take legal action.
CFSON CEO Pierre Gravelle reiterates the service’s stance that most issues can and are worked out at the company level. “It makes sound business sense to settle disputes and concerns as soon as they arise and no on is better positioned to deal with clients than the firms themselves.
Moving forward, the CFSON will focus on increased advertising to the public to make it aware of the service, as well as increased networking with stakeholders including industry associations. The CFSON was started in late 2001 as an industry response to government urging for a national consumer response and complaint resolution mechanism.

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