CR121 Abusive behaviour – invoking Rule 3.3.2
Abusive behaviour – invoking Rule 3.3.2
In 1992 the complainant, aged 45 years, purchased a life policy coupled with such other benefits as medical and hospital plans, capital provider, living assurance as well as an income replacer. According to her financial adviser, who had advised her for some thirty years:
“she needed both the protection which the policy gave her whilst the policy was in force and the knowledge that when the policy matured at her age 75 next birthday, she would have an amount estimated at between R3 million and R4 million.”
Thirteen years later when the complainant could no longer afford the premiums, she suddenly realised she had purchased a policy with risk cover as well as investment benefits instead of a pure investment policy. She quite vociferously averred:
“I was devastated to learn that I had in fact purchased a RISK COVER POLICY and not an INVESTMENT POLICY. It appears that most of the monies I had paid in over the years had simply been premiums to cover a risk with no returns…”
She commenced engaging the insurer on the matter. After a lengthy altercation with the insurer and the insurer’s internal ombudsman, the complainant forwarded the matter to this office.
While the matter was still under consideration, the complainant surprisingly accused the adjudicator dealing with it as well as the office generally of failing to give the matter due consideration as well as of unbecoming and unprofessional conduct. As a result of these serious allegations the matter was reassigned to the Deputy Ombudsman. When eliciting further information on the merits of the matter the Deputy Ombudsman also received the most abusive response from the complainant with allegations of bias and improper conduct.
Consequently the matter was referred to the Ombudsman who invoked Rule 3.3 of the Ombudsman’s Rules, which provides:
“The Ombudsman may dismiss a complaint, without first referring it to the subscribing member concerned, if it appears to him or her, on the information furnished by the complainant, that:
3.3.2 the complaint is being pursued in a frivolous, vexatious or abusive manner; or
In his correspondence with the complainant the Ombudsman duly cautioned her that she had made a number of offensive statements to the effect:
(i) that the purpose of this office is to frustrate and intimidate complainants, more particularly her, in the hope that they would not pursue their complaints with the office;
(ii) that the office is beholden to the insurer and biased in its favour and hence against her.
The Ombudsman warned that, in his view, these comments which were untrue were reason enough to invoke the Rule that the complainant was pursuing her complaint in an abusive manner. The complainant was then given the opportunity to retract the false accusations and apologise, failing which the file in the matter would be closed.
Upon receipt of a further churlish response from the complainant the complaint was promptly dismissed.