What can I do if I’m unhappy with my claims management company?

You might think you wouldn’t recognise a claims management company (CMC) if you tripped over one. But there’s actually a very good chance you’ve spoken to one in the past few months – or at least answered the phone to one.

claims management companies

And if you had tripped over one, your phone would probably not have stopped ringing since.

You know those hugely irritating calls you get when a recorded message asks about pursuing a personal injury or payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling claim on your behalf? That’s a CMC trying to drum up business.

But if their marketing tactics leave a lot to be desired, that’s only half the story. According to the Legal Ombudsman, increasing numbers of people are finding the service offered by such organisations isn’t up to scratch.

So here’s what the Ombudsman advises you should do if you’re unhappy with your CMC…

Consumer redress

CMCs generate business by offering to help people with personal injury and financial claims, such as mis-sold PPI – although in many instances, the work they do can be completed swiftly and easily by the individual concerned.

Indeed, the industry’s reputation has suffered due to a number of consumer gripes caused by misleading costs information, delays in progressing work, and poor communication.

Last year, around 9,000 people complained to the industry regulator about CMCs but were unable to get redress.

This year all that changed: the Legal Ombudsman has been given powers to help people get their money back (or to order other suitable remedies) if they’ve received a poor service from a CMC. This service is free to consumers, and impartial.

“Last year, around 9,000 people complained to the industry regulator about CMCs but were unable to get redress”

About the industry

Financial products and services provide the largest area of work for CMCs, as they help people to get back unfair charges and costs from banks and insurers.

However, revenue from this sector fell by a third to £453m from £653m the previous year. This represents the biggest drop in turnover since regulation began.

Although changes in legislation may explain some of this drop in revenue – in 2013 an act was passed which made it a regulatory offence to pay or receive referral fees in personal injury cases - the Ombudsman’s research suggests that poor service and not taking complaints seriously isn’t helping: confidence in the claims market is under threat.

A recent awareness survey commissioned by the Legal Ombudsman has highlighted that more than two thirds (76%) of people are not confident that CMCs tell the truth to their customers. This compares to just 20% of people who think the same of lawyers (the Ombudsman also helps to resolve complaints about legal service providers).

What’s more, 68% of people say they are not confident their rights are protected by CMCs. And a further two thirds of people are not confident that a CMC would handle their complaint properly or that any issues would be fixed by complaining. A third of CMC users said that they didn’t know who to complain to if something went wrong with the service they received.

The Ombudsman hopes its involvement in this area of work will help improve confidence in the industry.

How to complain about a CMC

If you have used a CMC and aren’t happy with the service you’ve received, your first port of call should be to complain to the service provider. However, if you are not happy with their response, or they fail to respond to your complaint within eight weeks, you can take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.

Where it finds evidence of poor service, the Ombudsman has powers to make the CMC reduce its fees, pay compensation, complete work or return papers.

The service is free to consumers and is able to deal with complaints about any CMC regulated by the Claims Management Regulator. Visit legalombudsman.org.uk for more information and to make a complaint. You can also get an idea of the type of complaints the scheme deals with in this case study.

The Legal Ombudsman’s Head of CMCs, Simon Tunnicliffe, said: “We have significant powers of redress to help protect CMC customers. I would encourage anyone who has made a complaint to their CMC without success to contact our scheme straight away.”

You can contact the Legal Ombudsman via cmc@legalombudsman.org.uk or by calling 0300 555 0333. Alternatively, why not use the scheme’s Live Chat feature?

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