The country's financial watchdog for consumers has warned that insurers are still voiding customers policies, sometimes unreasonably, with serious consequences. 

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman criticised the insurance sector as he published almost 400 legally binding decisions involving complaints made against those offering banking and investment services. 

"In the insurance area, I'm afraid that I still have to say that insurance companies are voiding policies, sometimes in an unreasonable fashion I believe," Ger Deering said.  

"And I think this is really important for both companies and individuals to know that the implications of having an insurance policy cancelled are quite serious," he added. 

Mr Deering said the complaints he received last year were very broadly based and across all companies in the financial services and pensions market. 

He urged companies to communicate better with their customers, because this can often prevent misunderstandings or errors or lead to faster resolution of problems. 

"I find in dealing with complaints that when I look at them and I listen to telephone calls between the provider and the complainant, you often realise that it is a lack of understanding on the part of the provider of the implications of their actions," he said. 


"It can have a very profound implication for someone if you wrongly report their credit rating and it really is important that financial services providers understand that," he explained. 

Mr Deering said however that he is encouraged by the action of some providers to put in place measures to implement his decisions in a way that apply to other customers. 

Today's report reveals that a bank had to pay a couple €35,000 for overcharging them interest and failing to clearly state the correct interest rate on their loan, following a decision by the Financial Ombudsman. 

The case is one of 439 closed by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) in 2019, following formal investigations and the subsequent issuing of legally binding decisions. 

201 of the cases were either fully, substantially or partially upheld with the balance rejected. 

394 of the decisions have been published by the FSPO today. 

However, the publication does not include 25 decisions on tracker mortgage cases, as these will be published in March.

This is because the FSPO wants to publish these separately in order to illustrate the breadth and complexity of the issues raised.

Last week, AIB's board said it was setting aside €300m in its accounts for 2019 to deal with possible further redress that may be due to tracker mortgage customers arising from a preliminary decision issued by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Ger Deering.

Another of last year's cases published today involved a lender being forced to pay €15,000 after it failed to update an individual's Irish Credit Bureau rating. 

This failure meant that the person's debt did not show up as clear and as a result their credit rating was negatively affected.

In another case, a bank threatened to close a company's bank account due to an outstanding debt which ultimately turned out to be a mistake. 

As a result, the bank was forced to pay compensation of €15,000 to the firm. 

An insurer also had to pay compensation of €9,000 to a complainant after it cancelled their policy. 

It did this because a document it had sought from the policy holder was blocked by its own IT firewall when it was sent in. 

Other cases included one where a pet insurer was forced to pay veterinary costs and compensation of €300 to a couple whose claim involving their dog was rejected because of the animal's weight.

Another insurer had to pay €3,000 to a person who received less than they were entitled to under a dental policy because of poor information provided by the company. 

This is the second year that Mr Deering, has made the full text of his decisions available to the public, with the aim of improving understanding of his role. 

According to Mr Deering, most of the complaints were resolved through informal mediation. 

Cases involving banking, insurance, credit facilities and other investments including pensions fall within the FSPO's remit. 

The Ombudsman can direct a financial services provider to pay compensation of up to €500,000 to a complainant. 

They can also order that the conduct that led to the complaint be rectified, with no limit on the value of the rectification that can be directed.