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PIA concerned over handling of complaints

The PIA is demanding that IFAs tighten up lax complaints’ procedures amid signs that many are failing to respond to consumers’ concerns.

In its Regulatory Update 45, the PIA sets out a series of failings on complaints.

Head of press Sarah Modlock says the PIA helpline has seen some cases of “appalling” complaints’ handling.

The PIA says too many firms fail to recognise and investigate complaints or to respond to complaints made orally.

Complaints that should go to the PIA Ombudsman Bureau are sometimes referred instead to the PIA.

The PIA also warns that some firms are failing to keep complainants informed of investigations and some are failing to keep adequate records of investigations.

The update reminds firms that they must treat complaints seriously and obey PIA rules when dealing with them.

Modlock warns that, if firms do not improve their handling of complaints, the PIA will demand that they take prompt remedial action. She says: “Evidence from our consumer helpline and our routine inspection visits shows that there is room for improvement.

“Some cases that we have seen have been appalling. We are talking about individual cases rather than the same firm over and over again but we have seen cases where complaints’ procedures have been blatantly disregarded. We will find out about these on monitoring visits.”

Next year’ PIA persistency figures will continue to count investors taking premium holidays as lapsed policies.

The move comes despite a plea from life offices not to take premium holidays into account when calculating the figures. Modlock says the decision follows advice from PIA actuaries.

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