Sun | Dec 4, 2016

FSC monitoring complaints

Published:Tuesday | February 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Janice Holness, executive director, Financial Services Commission

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) notes the contents of two columns published in The Sunday Gleaner of January 18 and 25, 2015 titled, 'Are insurance customers treated fairly? Parts 1 and 2', written by Cedric Stephens.

The FSC's mandate is to protect the users of financial services while ensuring that, as the regulator, supervision is carried out, using current international standards and best practices. All areas of market conduct are included as part of the on-site examinations of insurers, which have been undertaken by the FSC since its establishment in 2001.

Additionally, since 2009, the FSC deepened its examination focus on the market-conduct operations of the companies, and developed and implemented targeted on-site examination procedures that focus specifically on this area.

Where claims-processing issues are identified during the examinations process, the FSC ensures that the insurer implements procedures and/or systems to remedy the current situation and mitigate the problems from recurring.

Complaints directed to the FSC would, of course, support enhancements in this regard. Therefore, insurance customers are encouraged to file, with the FSC's Investigation and Enforcement Division, complaints they may have, as it relates to the manner in which regulated entities conduct business with them, particularly when they perceive that they are unfairly treated.

This allows the FSC to not only provide support to the customers, in keeping with its mandate, but also to have information to keep abreast of developing issues and trends, thereby allowing the FSC, as the regulator of the sector, to appropriately set requirements particularly in regard to market conduct.

The FSC also ensures fitness and propriety of registrants, which at an organisational level, requires the insurer to demonstrate that it has the capacity to properly carry out all aspects of insurance business for which it has been registered by the FSC. The ACII designation from the Chartered Insurance Institute is one such accreditation that is recognised, and all general insurers do have staff with this certification, which provides attestation regarding competence.

More important, during 2013-2014, the FSC, in line with its supervisory mandate, engaged the insurance industry in discussions in order to develop a more comprehensive and robust framework by which insurance entities should benchmark their performance, in respect of market conduct.

These discussions culminated in the development of the Market Conduct Guidelines, which were disseminated to all insurers and intermediaries in July 2014. The document is on the FSC website, and is available for viewing at www.fscjamaica.org.

The Market Conduct Guidelines is based on the Insurance Core Principles recommended by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), to which Mr Stephens made reference. It addresses the issue of care, skill and due diligence that insurance entities should adopt as well as the implementation and maintenance of proper complaints and claims-handling procedures.

The FSC upgraded its website to facilitate the direct submissions of complaints by the public. A 'contact' tab, located on the home page, may be utilised by complainants to submit their concerns and complaints. There is also a separate 'complaints' tab where additional information is provided to advise the FSC about customer complaints to be addressed by us, which, again, also facilitates complaints submissions.

The FSC, mindful of its role and the importance of being current, recently conducted an independent self-assessment in which a consultant from the World Bank carried out a comparative analysis of the Insurance Core Principles, as stipulated by IAIS, against the current legislation and guidelines used by the FSC.

The information from this analysis allows the FSC to update or issue new guidelines, in the short term, as well as, propose amendments to the legislation. It, therefore, means that the regulations of the industry remain, at all times, in line with international standards and best practices, thus providing adequate protection to consumers of financial services.

The FSC welcomes input from all external stakeholders as to how it can continue to improve on the quality of the services we offer, in line with our corporate values. As such, we encourage initial dialogue, which can help to eliminate misunderstandings and ensure completeness and accuracy of data shared with the public.

n Janice P. Holness is executive director, FSC. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.