Insurance Law and the Financial Ombudsman Service
HISTORY AND FORMATION OF THE FOS
The Insurance Ombudsman Bureau (“IOB”) was founded in 1981 by three leading insurance companies as a type of alternative dispute resolution service outside of the court system, to resolve complaints by customers against insurers who were members of the scheme. Complaints were to be dealt with independently, privately and without charge to the complainant. It was a voluntary, industry, non-governmental initiative, backed by the National Consumer Council, at a time when there was no regulator for the conduct of investment or insurance business. Most insurers opted to join the scheme. The law did not have to be applied strictly in the interests of resolving the disputes fairly. If this resulted in any occasional rough justice for insurers, it was outweighed by the cheap and effective alternative dispute resolution service which the IOB offered, particularly for small insurance disputes which were uneconomic to run in the court’s litigation system, especially in a time before the Woolf reforms of court procedures.