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Lord Hunt to investigate the rise of claim-chasers

FOS review to look at allegations of unfairness and why complaints can’t be made by text

The review of the Financial Ombudsman Service will investigate why consumers use claim-chasing companies and pay a proportion of any compensation to them rather than going direct to the watchdog for free.

Speaking to Money Marketing this week, the head of the review, Lord Hunt, who is president of the Chartered Insurance Institute and a former chairman of Aifa, says he will also look into suggestions of perceived unfairness in favour of consumers.

Hunt, who spent last Thursday meeting ombudsman staff at Canary Wharf, wants to trawl as widely as possible for opinions from the public and the industry and will publish a document seeking responses next month, with a review website also planned.

He says: “The ombudsman is a free service and I want to examine why people find it necessary to go to claim management companies and pay for that service when the FOS is free. There is a fascinating side to this. There is this free service but people felt it necessary to build up this industry in claim management.”

Hunt adds: “There are a number of professionals who feel that they have not been dealt with fairly by the FOS and I want to examine that and see if there is any justification for that.”

He will also look at whether IT can be fully utilised. He says: “There is undoubtedly a view that the methodology used could be much more IT-friendly. At the moment, you cannot text a complaint and you have to pay to make a complaint by telephone and I want to examine that side to make sure that people who have a valid complaint are dealt with properly, effectively and quickly.”

Mint Financial Services IFA Adrian Kidd says: “We are bombarded with advertising and the general public lacks the confidence to take ownership of this issue and complain themselves. There needs to be better consumer understanding of these complaints’ procedures.”

See next week’s Money Marketing for full interview with Lord Hunt

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