Ombudsman told to be nicer to firms

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The Independent Online
JULIAN FARRAND, the Insurance Ombudsman who has upset some members of the industry by being 'too sympathetic' to customers, has been told he must try to improve his relationship with the companies that fund the Ombudsman scheme.

Dr Farrand has just been reappointed to his post for another two years. But it is understood that, while considering his reappointment, the council of the Ombudsman Bureau discussed concerns expressed by some insurance companies about Dr Farrand's approach. Some companies believe he is too favourable to complainants, even though last year he found in favour of insurance companies in two thirds of the cases he examined. This is a higher failure rate for the industry than under Dr Farrand's predecessor, James Haswell.

The council is understood to have asked Dr Farrand to give a high priority to 'liaison' with senior executives of the bureau's member companies in the next two years.

Dr Farrand would not comment on the circumstances surrounding his reappointment but said he looked forward 'enthusiastically' to furthering the work of the bureau.

David Garrett, assistant general manager (life) at Sun Life, one of the industry representatives on the bureau's council, said: 'In any organisation you are going to get differences of opinion. My view, and my influence on the council, has been directed at trying to ensure that where . . . Dr Farrand is going to find in favour of the policy holders, if the issue is a knife-edge one, the best result can be achieved if . . . the company feels good about the idea. They should feel good about the process that has happened.'

Barbara Saunders, chairman of the bureau's council, said: 'In any situation were one is appraising the performance of members of staff, and the Ombudsman is an employee of the bureau, one undertakes thorough discussions with the individual about their role . . . within the organisation.'

(Photograph omitted)

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