Insurance policies serve, because of their effect on an individual's economic security, a very important purpose within our society. The insurance industry is closely regulated by the Insurance Business Act and it is under the supervision of the Financial Supervisory Authority. The Insurance Contracts Act further safeguards the consumer's position.
There are several different venues for the dissatisfied insurance customer to turn to for redress. To begin with, the insured can have the matter reviewed a second time by the insurance company. Many of the larger companies have special review committees or their own customer ombudsmen to whom the consumers can turn to have their matters reviewed.
Konsumenternas Försäkringsbyrå - the Swedish Consumers Insurance Bureau - provides advice to consumers in various insurance matters. The Bureau offers pre-purchase information, advise concerning losses and conduct market surveys where the specific aspects of different insurance policies are compared. They also keep the companies informed of the more common consumer problems. The Bureau is not empowered to reverse any decisions made by the insurance company, but they may attempt to conciliate disputes between policyholders and their insurance companies.
The Swedish Consumer's Insurance Bureau handles more than 13,000 matters each year. Most part of them – 80% - involve claim issues and the remaining 20% consists of advice prior to buying an insurance policy.
The National Board for Consumer Complaints (ARN) has a department for consumer insurance where issues involving insurance terms and conditions and claims adjustments are reviewed. The Board's decisions are only recommendations and are therefore not binding on the parties. However, the insurance companies almost always follow the Board's recommendations. In a few instances, a company may wish to have the matter tried by the courts.
Within the insurance industry there are a number of boards and committees, among them the Committee for Bodily Injury Liability Insurance, Committee for Accident and Sickness Insurance as well as the Committee for Insurance of Persons.
Reports and statements from the various committees, which are issued at the request of the companies, serve as guidelines when, for example, certain clauses are to be interpreted and they contribute to the establishment of a uniform practice within the area of claims settlements. You will find them at Svensk Försäkrings Nämnder.
According to law, the Road Traffic Injuries Commission reviews serious traffic injuries in order to ensure that compensation for bodily injury is fair and uniform. The Government designates the Board's chairman and the remaining members represent employer and employee organisations and the insurance companies. The Board issues recommendations on the claims adjustment in individual cases.
An insurance dispute can, of course, also be tried before the general courts of law. The majority of householder's comprehensive policies include a legal expenses clause that the policy holder can use in case of disputes which can be referred to a court. The legal expense insurance can also be used in disputes with the insured's own insurance company.
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