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ombudsman news

issue 34

January 2004

about this issue

In this edition of ombudsman news we highlight some of the complaints we have dealt with recently about single premium investment bonds, including high income bonds, sometimes referred to as "precipice bonds".

We look, too, at some recent insurance disputes involving "unoccupied" properties. Most household insurance policies say that you will not be covered for events such as theft, malicious damage and escape of water if you leave your home "unoccupied" for a period of time, normally 30 or 60 days. But few policyholders realise that their insurer may consider them to have left their property "unoccupied" simply because they have been away for a few weeks, even if they visited the property regularly during that time.

Complaints about the mis-selling of mortgage endowment policies continue to form a major part of our overall workload. We summarise the main points that emerged at the mortgage endowment forum we hosted recently with the Financial Services Authority, in order to discuss current issues and concerns with representatives of consumer and industry bodies.

The increasing popularity of payment methods such as debit and credit cards means that people are tending to use cheques less frequently than in the past. Even so, nearly 12 million cheques are written in the UK every day. That leaves plenty of scope for things to go wrong. Many of the disputes we see that involve cheques arise from the way that the clearing system operates. We outline what generally happens when a cheque goes through this system, and we illustrate some of the problems that can occur.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 34 [PDF format]

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.