Life insurance sector told to start respecting clients' needs
FORMER ombudsman for financial services Joe Meade has claimed in a speech that salespeople for life insurance companies often fail to respect customers' desires.
He told the Insurance Institute of Ireland, an educational body, that commission tends to be more important to insurance salespeople than selling a suitable product, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Mr Meade, who was ombudsman from 2005 until he retired earlier this year, said the insurance industry had a responsibility to treat customers fairly.
"What does it say about the financial industry when 25,000 complaints were received and €60m returned to customers between 2005 and 2009 as a result of the ombudsman's actions?" he asked in his speech on Tuesday.
He warned those in the industry that they got money from customers on trust.
"It is not your plaything, and it confers very onerous responsibility on financial service providers to do the right thing," Mr Meade said.
He added that he was often confronted with situations where industry players who were the subject of complaints would try to "defend the indefensible". He described this as "downright outrageous".
Without naming names, he gave examples of bad practice such as a farmer being pressurised to buy health insurance and driven to an ATM by the salesperson to pay for it.
He had come across many cases of elderly people being sold inappropriate investments, he said.