There are two main trade organisations operating in the insurance field that could help you if you feel you need aid. The first is the ABI, or the Association of British Insurers. Members of the ABI will endeavour to follow its code of conduct, but if you have a grievance then the ABI can take a number of steps, such as making sure that your complaint is dealt with by a senior member of staff. Some insurance providers are instead members of the Insurance Brokers Registration Council, who will also help you to deal with complaints.
However, there is a new organisation emerging. Now, increasing numbers of insurance providers, of whatever type, are joining a more newly created organisation, the General Insurance Standards Council. This organisation is gradually taking over the regulation of the insurance industry and will eventually be the first port of call for any complaints regarding insurance and the way in which it is sold.
Any complaints you have should first of all be addressed to your insurance provider. If you remain dissatisfied then you should then ask the company about their recommended complaints procedure and follow that. Usually this will mean contacting an independent complaints scheme to which the company belongs and going forward from there.
These complaints schemes fall into two different categories- arbitration schemes and ombudsman schemes. An arbitration scheme is an alternative to going to court. Usually both parties will need to agree to accept the arbiter’s decision before any procedures take place. Ombudsman schemes differ in that if you do not accept the official’s decision then you still have the right to take your case to court; although bear in mind that this could be both costly and lengthy.
At present, the complaints procedure in this country is a bit complicated, although it should become more simplified in the coming years. The Financial Services Authority dedicate a section of their website to explaining exactly how complaints should be dealt with, which is well worth a read.