Friends Provident In The Wrong
In a rare piece of good news, it seems that the thousands of endowment policy holders who have been told that they have run out of time to complain about their useless and underperforming mortgage endowment policies have been offered some hope of compensation.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has ruled that Friends Provident was wrong to impose a time limit on an endowment misselling complaint bought by a Mr and Mrs Smith, and has ordered the insurer to reopen their case.
The Smiths are physically disabled, and that has impacted the decisions of the FOS. However, endowment claims and legal specialists reportedly believe that this judgement could impact on all policyholders who have been time barred.
Tim Moore, of EndowmentClaims.com, said:
"This ruling suggests that if policyholders can prove that they were too confused, for whatever reason, to make accurate financial choices that the time bar may be invalid."
Under FSA rules, endowment policyholders who want to complain must do so within three years of receiving a "red" warning letter.
The FOS ruled that the Smiths were too confused to make an accurate decision about their mortgage options, as such the time bar was invalid.
The ombudsman is quoted as saying:
"I take the fact that Mr and Mrs Smith are unable to work as a good indication they may find coping with day to day normal life a challenge, and consider their circumstances are exceptional for the purposes of the mortgage endowment time bar rules."
A "coalition" of endowment claims experts including; Donns Solicitors, Endowmentclaims.com, CPH Financial Advisory Services, Whitehall Randall, and Michael Booth QC is reportedly ready to test whether it can be applied to all policyholders, not just the disabled.
Andrew Hummersone, from Whitehall Randall, said:
"In light of this ruling, our next step will be to send another 10 time barred cases to the FOS.
The minute a claim is rejected we will immediately seek a High Court review, with the aim of confirming once and for all whether time bars have any validity."
As ever with the endowment scandal, the lawyers and claim firms will do very well out of it.
However, as I keep repeating, the best way for all of the parties involved in this disgrace would be for the life assurance companies to do the decent thing and bite the bullet of underwriting these useless underperforming policies.