Payment protection insurance (or PPI as we commonly call it) has been perhaps the most talked-about consumer issue in the last decade – or longer. Most of us have read the success stories of claims totalling thousands (even tens of thousands) of pounds and applauded the efforts of the many campaigners on the issue.
We’ve also heard of the banks that have tried to push back on claims (including genuine ones), the surge in escalations to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and of course the call to arms to get your claims in by the ‘magic’ deadline of 29 August 2019 – or you lose out on the opportunity to try.
News from the FOS that escalated PPI claims are dwindling – certainly compared to previous years – will have banks breathing a sigh of relief. As will the assertion from the FOS that its work on PPI is “nearly complete”. Now, this blunt message concerns me, it’s as if the matter is basically closed for good. But from the submissions we continue to see at Resolver, and the very recent failings by big banks to comply with the rules, I think that is at least a little premature. The door should not be firmly shut on PPI claims – and consumers do have a rite of passage if their claim is genuine, particularly if new information comes to light, regardless of any ‘deadline’ put in place. Not least because you can still buy the insurance today.
What’s the deal with PPI now?
In absolute terms, the deadline for submitting PPI claims has passed – in fact that happened more than 18 months ago. Basically beyond 29 August 2019, if you tried to submit a claim, then the chance of you being heard were slim.
This didn’t mean that cases could not be escalated past this date if your bank or financial provider rejected your claim, or you felt the payout was not sufficient, it’s specifically the deadline for submitting the claim in the first place. But if FOS had made a recommendation in your case that wasn’t in your favour, then the matter is pretty much closed.
But what if you found definitive evidence that you had PPI? The documents you may have previously stored away somewhere you rarely check, or worse – you submitted your claim but it was wrongly rejected (and you can prove it)? This is where I believe consumers still have the right to raise a case and be heard.
What is Resolver seeing?
It won’t take a genius to know why complaints through Resolver about PPI dropped enormously last year compared to 2019. But they are still coming. I’m quick to point out that this isn’t in droves. But with just over 150 cases seen through 2020 (more so at the start of the year than towards the end) and still trickling through as we see out the first quarter of 2021, it’s more than I would like for an issue considered ‘nearly closed’ – not that I feel a ‘deadline’ for submitting a claim for money you are owed is particularly appropriate anyway.
Those complaining typically referred to ‘not realising’ that they had taken out PPI – with some clearly under the assumption originally that the charges were either interest or a fee.
We’ve also seen incidences from users who genuinely feel they have a case, despite a rejection from the financial provider in question – in some cases through having found documents to confirm they had PPI in the first place or using a claims management company to investigate.
I was particularly concerned to see claims from those who hadn’t heard from their provider – so in the ‘letter’ of the ‘deadline’ had missed their window to chase – or escalate – their claim. We all heard that it was taking ‘longer than usual’ for lenders to respond to PPI claims – partly due to the volume. Then we entered lockdown and the pandemic took hold in March 2020, so if you were waiting for a response it is plausible that you still may have time to escalate to the FOS even now.
What can we do?
Being honest, it will be a challenge. If you lost your claim having already escalated to FOS then it is virtually the end of the road (though you have the right to take your case to court if you strongly disagree with the decision). Equally, if you’re submitting a new claim it’s almost certain that your bank will not look at it.
However, if you’ve only recently discovered that you have had PPI on a financial product, it can do no harm to contact the provider with this evidence – just be aware that in practice they’re unlikely to look at it. If the provider locates missing documents that show you have a PPI claim, the finance sector regulator – the Financial Conduct Authority – requires that you are told.
Equally, if the argument is that you used a PPI checker to see if you had PPI (and were told you didn’t but you can now prove you have) then I’d argue that had you been told upfront that you did have PPI, then you would have pursued a claim.
If you had made a claim before the deadline, and the financial provider wrongly rejected your claim when you submitted it (and you can now show this), then I’d advise contacting your provider to – and if this fails, you should be able to escalate your case to FOS. There are time limits on when you can do this – typically six months from when you get your final response from a company, though there may be opportunities in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The key here is evidence. It is no longer enough to simply make a claim to find out if you had PPI in the first place – it’s very likely this will be ignored. You really need to be sure that you did – and have the documentation to prove it. But if you have, then I would say that as a consumer, you are within your rights to raise a case for something that is rightfully yours.
Do let us know if you have tried to raise a case after the deadline and any result you received on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to make a complaint to your financial provider, Resolver can help for free.