Home Building Sector Ahead of PPI for Safeguarding Consumers

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News that home builders will be giving customers greater levels of protection via a Code of Conduct and redress scheme is to be applauded, says Payment Protection Insurance lobbyist Sara-Ann Burgess from Burgesses.

Sara-Ann Burgess, MD Burgesses

It's great dissatisfied consumers will get their complaints dealt with when they first move into their new homes, however, it's a pity little is being done to protect those who purchase PPI in a bid to keep these homes. We know in many cases PPI is over-priced and mis-sold and yet these practices are allowed to continue.

News that home builders will be giving customers greater levels of protection via a Code of Conduct and redress scheme is to be applauded, says Payment Protection Insurance lobbyist Sara-Ann Burgess from Burgesses.

She comments: "It's great dissatisfied consumers will get their complaints dealt with when they first move into their new homes, however, it's a pity little is being done to protect those who purchase PPI in a bid to keep these homes. We know in many cases PPI is over-priced and mis-sold and yet these practices are allowed to continue."

The PPI sector has been under investigation by the Competition Commission since February 2007, following a referral from the Office of Fair Trading who voiced concerns after receiving a 'super complaint' from the Citizens Advice Bureau In September 2005.

Sara-Ann continues: "Despite findings that clearly evidence elements within this sector are working to the detriment of consumers, three years on from the initial complaint, no immediate action has been taken. The Competition Commission recognises that banks and building societies have a monopoly and as a result charge excessive premiums and sell a high volume of policies to consumers who are then illegible to claim, so why does it take so long to issue statutory guidelines that will address these issues? The home building sector has taken on board the OFT's comments and sourced a solution so why can't PPI providers do the same?"

An OFT market study into home building in the UK was launched in June 2007 and following a series of investigations, found that many buyers had faults with properties or delays moving in. It concluded homeowners suffered significant detriment, distress and inconvenience if there were major faults or several problems with a property, especially if related to heating or plumbing.

As a result, bodies including the Home Builders Federation, the National House Building Council and the Council of Mortgage Lenders are launching a Code of Conduct and scheme to give dissatisfied customers redress, ensuring they can get problems fixed quickly with minimum disruption. If this is unsuccessful, the OFT will introduce a statutory system, paid for by the house building industry.

Sara-Ann concludes: "If only we could do the same with PPI. It's ironic that the words used to describe the impact of home builders' mistakes - detriment and distress - were the same ones used by the OFT in its market study into the PPI sector. Solutions have been found to reduce the detriment and distress when consumers first purchase their homes, but not when they buy PPI.

"Customers need better protection across the board, before, during and after they purchase their properties. At the moment it's left to PPI independents such as British Insurance to safeguard consumers' interests and provide affordable, high quality products that cater for those with mortgages or who are in shared ownership schemes. When properly sold, PPI is an invaluable financial safety net and will pay bills should accident, sickness or unemployment occur."

The Competition Commission has set a statutory deadline of 6 February 2009 for the implementation of any remedial measures it decides are necessary following its investigation into the PPI sector.

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