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FOS to increase engagement with insurance industry

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Chief Ombudsman Shane Tregillis says the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has good relationships with members and their professional associations – but it wants to do more.

He says its priorities are improving core dispute services, dealing with backlogs and ensuring the organisation is focused on early resolution of disputes.

Engaging more actively with stakeholders will be key to these objectives, Mr Tregillis states in the service’s annual report.

FOS received 36,099 disputes last financial year, up 19%, with the greatest number relating to credit products, followed by general insurance disputes.

Of the 25,298 disputes that went to the formal resolution process FOS resolved 24,983.

Mr Tregillis told it is encouraging that major insurers are increasingly taking up conciliation, because all participants report it leads to faster, more effective outcomes.

FOS accepted 7595 general insurance disputes, up 35% on the previous financial year, with a significant number related to last year’s natural disasters, which were made a priority.

“At the same time, we have seen a significant increase this year in the number of general insurance disputes unrelated to natural disasters,” Mr Tregillis said.

He says although it is too early to forecast the year ahead, he hopes to see insurance disputes tail off, given all the work done by insurers, the industry and FOS. “I am hopeful we will start to see the trend level out.”

Mr Tregillis says FOS is stepping up its use of secure services in insurance, to take communications electronically and more quickly.

FOS membership of financial services providers rose 28% to 16,822 during the year, while its full-time-equivalent staffing grew 18%.