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Claim culture

PPI scaremongering is leading clients to cancel good quality cover

Were you missold payment protection insurance? You could be entitled to thousands. We are all familiar with these words. Barely a day goes by when I do not see a TV advert or receive a phone call saying I am entitled to compensation.

The incredible number that were missold PPI should claim and if many need help to do this, then it is good there are claim management companies there to assist. The trouble is that many of these firms are having a gratuitously negative impact on customers and our industry because of the way they do business.

I ignore the automated calls telling me I have been missold but when I was called by a human, I thought I would listen to what he had to say. He said he had been made aware that I had been missold PPI and asked whether I had taken out any loans or credit cards in the past 10 years. Who hasn’t?

He asked which ones might have had PPI, especially around 2005-07. I said I could not remember but that surely he would know as he had just told me he had information. He stumbled and at my further challenge asking whether he really did have any details, he said the information was limited and if I could not remember he could not help.

This operator clearly just tries its luck with any phone number it gets hold of. Lying should not be part of any service offering and, unsurprisingly, when I told him of my suspicions, he promptly put the phone down.

What concerns me most is that customers are inadvertently cancelling properly sold, much-needed cover, putting themselves and their families at risk because of the incessant stream of PPI misselling messages. Some write to us themselves to say they have been missold PPI, when they have entirely different policies.

We contact them to explain what cover they took out and try to repair the damage done. But when customers use a claim management company, I have been appalled to find the company does little or no checking to establish if the clients even have PPI.

We receive standard, completely inaccurate letters stating our clients have been missold PPI. Typically, these customers have a life, critical- illness or income protection policy. We call the company but it could not care less. Often, despite our best efforts to contact them, clients do not respond because they have been led to believe they have been missold and they cancel genuinely needed cover, having lost trust in us and in wider financial services.

The amount claim firms spend on advertising is staggering. It shows what a profitable and inadequately regulated industry it has mushroomed into. I wonder if the FSA will intervene before it is too late – or wait until this becomes the next scandal.

Emma Prescott is life office relationship director at LifeSearch

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