Taking the headache out of car insurance disputes

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April 14, 2011

Car insurers are set to ramp up customer service in a bid to avoid consumer complaints, since the Financial Ombudsman Service (FSO) recently began naming and shaming poor performers.

It's good news for motorists, who are likely to benefit from greater transparency. For some, it's an opportunity to shop around for a better car insurance quote, while for others its timely reminder of the steps you need to take if you are disgruntled with your current

provider's service.

How to make a complaint
If you are unhappy with your car insurance provider's handling of your case, the FSO recommends that you contact your provider directly with your concern.

Your provider will generally have a consumer complaints department, which may be able to discuss your issue and concerns and how you would like them to be resolved. This is often the quickest way to resolve a dispute.

Your financial services provider has 45 days to resolve the dispute, or 21 days under certain circumstances.

Still no resolution?
If contacting your provider has not led to resolution you may escalate your complaint by lodging a dispute online or over the phone with the FSO.

The FSO will then assess the complaint and determine whether it is within their jurisdiction, and then contact your provider, giving them a 21-day deadline for action.

If you and your insurer still can't come to an agreement, the FSO may offer negotiation or conciliation with an aim of a fair outcome for both parties.

How to avoid complaints
If you are in the market for car insurance or want to switch to another provider, it's important for you to always read the fine print about the policy. Familiarise yourself with the provider's product disclosure statement before you sign and get to know the insurer's conditions for making a claim.

It's also a good idea to make a list of the features that you want from a policy, so you have a clear idea of the cover you really need before you shop for a car insurance quote. Features may include a free rental car in case you are without yours, roadside assistance if you breakdown, or even personal effects cover in case your groceries or designer handbag are destroyed in an accident, for instance.

Once you're armed with this knowledge, compare car insurance quotes from multiple car insurance brands at RateCity before you sign up. By doing so, you'll ensure you're getting a good price on the cover you want.


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