In a message which will resonate with life insurers, general insurers have been cautioned over their use of outsourced service suppliers to handle complaints.
The caution has been revealed in the latest audit released by the General Insurance Code Governance Committee which reported that breaches of complaint standards by insurance companies more than doubled in 2017-18 to 4,079 representing more than one-third of total code breaches.
The independent chair of the Code Governance Committee, Lynelle Briggs said consumer complaints provided a valuable opportunity for insurers to listen and learn.
“Insurers need to do much more to understand who is complaining and what they’re complaining about,” she said. “They need to have appropriate numbers of skilled people who can examine complaints data and identify emerging issues with products or processes. This is very valuable information which shouldn’t be ignored or viewed in isolation.”
The audit, “How insurers handle consumer complaints”, examined a cross-section of 20 subscribing insurers. The main concerns identified were:
• timeliness of complaints handling
• insurers’ use of outsourced service suppliers to handle complaints
• documentation of complaints handling processes
• failure to provide written responses to complaints.
Referring to the use of outside service provides, the report noted ongoing noncompliance with the code’s requirements concerning complaints made to service suppliers acting on behalf of insures.
“The Committee found that some subscribers [insurers] were allowing service suppliers to handle complaints themselves, rather than referring them to the subscriber [insurer] to be handled under its own complaints process,” the report said.