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REVEALED: The life insurance companies with the most complaints

May 11 2017 05:00
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – The long-term insurance company which received the most complaints during 2016 is Old Mutual.

This is according to the long-term insurance ombudsman’s annual report for 2016. Old Mutual topped the list of complaints, with 723 or 13.77% of total complaints. Of these, 454 cases were considered.

A total of 469 of Old Mutual’s complaints were resolved in 2016. The majority (43) received from consumers have to do with poor communication and service. Similarly, the majority (129) of complaints from the insurer (Old Mutual) also have to do with poor communication and submission of information or documents from consumers.

Liberty Group ranked second with 587 cases or 11.18% of total complaints. Only 432 complaints were considered by the ombudsman. A total of 434 cases were resolved. The majority of complaints from consumers have to do with claims declined over non-disclosure.

Hollard Life Assurance Company followed, with 492 or 9.37% complaints. Only 343 cases were considered. A total of 330 cases were finalised. The majority (56) of complaints about Hollard have to do with poor communication and service.

Other players like Sanlam Life Insurance saw 273 complaints submitted to the ombudsman. Metropolitan Life clients submitted 376 complaints, MMI Group 316, Assupol Life 300, Clientele Life Assurance Company 226, Discovery Life 184 and Outsurance Life Insurance reported 30 complaints.

Acsis, FedGroup Life, Investment Solutions, Just Retirement Life (SA), New Era Life Insurance Company received zero complaints.

Deputy ombudsman Jennifer Preiss cautioned that these statistics must not be viewed in isolation and should be seen within context. Preiss added that among the trends observed is that the biggest insurers often also have a greater amount of complaints.

Preiss highlighted that four insurers received five second reminders throughout 2016. These include Africa Unity, Nedgroup Life, Nestlife and Safrican.

The ombudsman received 9 871 written requests for assistance during the year. Of these 5 284 were chargeable - 266 more than the previous year. A total of 3 324 cases were resolved. About 78% of these were finalised in six months, said ombudsman Judge Ron McLaren. This is an improvement since 2014, where 74% of cases were finalised; 75% were finalised in 2015.

“We see in the office an increasing tendency on the part of complainants (to be) impatient, and they want their cases finalised,” he explained.

For the year, expenses came to R21.5m - bout R1.8m per month. In contrast to that, the amount of R187.7m was recovered on behalf of complainants. This excludes income benefits or annuity payments or any benefit of a non-montary value like the reinstatement of a policy, he added.

“Within a year with 365 days, the office recovers R500 000 for complainants every day,” said McLaren.

For a year with 250 working days, the office recovers more than R750 000 for complainants in lumpsums every day.

"We don’t act for consumers, we don’t act for companies, we are an effective and efficient  impartial, independent, complaints resolutions service," added McLaren.

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