Information for small business customers who have a complaint about a bank, insurer or other financial business, that has been caused or affected by Covid-19 (coronavirus).
We're monitoring official advice
As well as the serious impact on health, the spread of Covid-19 is also affecting the economy, businesses and consumers. We're monitoring the enquiries and complaints we're receiving, and keeping in touch with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) - the industry regulator - and our stakeholders, and monitoring official advice.
How to complain to a financial business
If you're concerned that Covid-19 will have an impact on your finances, speak to your insurer, bank or financial service provider first. If however you're unhappy with what they say to you, you might be able to complain and, ultimately, we might be able to help. When you contact a financial business to complain, the business needs to give you their final response within eight weeks at the most, depending on what you’re complaining about.
The impact of Covid-19 on complaint handling
The impact of Covid-19, and the associated public health measures, mean that financial businesses are having to work differently. The industry regulator, the FCA, has set out its expectations for financial businesses’ complaint handling at this time, including what they should do in relation to handling and prioritising complaints. You can find the full detail of its statement on its website.
The FCA has said that it expects financial businesses to continue to explain how to complain, and to continue to handle complaints fairly. However where customers do make a complaint, they may not hear back from financial businesses within 8 weeks, as usually required by the FCA’s rules (or the 15 business days for payment services and e-money complaints). The FCA is asking that customers show patience at this time if they do not receive a final response to their complaint within the usual 8 weeks.
We, too, are having to work differently. Although our phone lines are open and we are continuing to resolve complaints that have been referred to us, we expect that there will be an inevitable impact on how long things take. Particularly where we need to obtain information from businesses. We continue to engage with businesses where we can, to ensure that we can progress cases referred to us in a timely and efficient way. You can find out more about timescales for specific complaint types in the complaints we can help with section of our website.
How to contact us
Our phone lines are open between 9.00am and 5.00pm, but to help us keep our phones open for customers who have urgent queries, please contact us online instead, if you can.
- To submit a new complaint use our online form.
- If you’d like an update on an existing case, please send us an email, quoting your case reference number. Or send us a direct message on our social media channels.
- If you’re looking for an update on a complaint you’ve recently submitted, there's more about our timescales on our contact us page.
Find more information about all of the ways to get in touch on our contact us page.
Guidance on specific types of complaint
These are some of the issues we think might affect small businesses specifically and some detail about how we can help. We have more information about other types of complaint we might see about Covid-19 affecting individual consumers, and our approach, on our main website.
CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme)
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is a government initiative to provide financial support to smaller businesses who are affected as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. You can find out more about the scheme itself on the British Business Bank's website.
- The scheme is available through the British Business Bank’s accredited lenders, listed on the British Business Bank's website. It supports a range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.
- We can help small businesses with complaints about most kinds of CBILS products.
- Find out more about the type of businesses we can help.
BBLS (Bounce Back Loan Scheme)
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is a government initiative to provide financial support to smaller businesses affected as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. You can find out more about the scheme itself on the British Business Bank's website.
- The scheme is available through the British Business Bank’s accredited lenders and partners, listed on the British Business Bank's website.
- We can help small businesses with complaints about BBLS.
- Find out more about the type of businesses we can help.
Business interruption (protection) insurance
Business interruption insurance covers loss of income suffered by a business by having to close due to certain events.
- In order to determine whether you can make a claim under your business interruption insurance, check your policy terms to see what cover is provided. If you had arranged the cover through a broker, you may want to consult them too.
- If the policy doesn’t include pandemic cover, it may still provide cover for loss of income as a result of people not being able to access the business. This is often called ‘restricted access’ or ‘non-damage business interruption’ cover.
- The government has provided guidance in relation to commercial insurance policies. And you may also want to refer to information from the Association of British Insurers.
- If you think your claim could fall within the cover offered or if you are unsure, contact your insurer. Keep records of what’s happened and gather evidence of any losses.
- We’d expect any insurer to remember its duties to deal with claims fairly and promptly, and not to reject a claim unreasonably. The FCA has also set out its expectations for insurers where cover is provided for within the policy.
- This is a very unique situation. So when considering the relevant policy terms we would expect insurers to think carefully about what’s fair and reasonable in each case, taking into account the unprecedented situation created by Covid-19.
FCA announcement on business interruption insurance
The FCA recently announced that it is seeking legal clarity on business interruption insurance. It has explained that it is writing to a small number of businesses seeking clarification about whether they are declining, or intend to decline, business interruption claims. The FCA expects these firms to reply to it to clarify their position, by no later than 15 May 2020.
We are not yet able to say how this might affect our progression of individual cases – and whether, for example, it might be appropriate for us to pause our consideration of certain disputes whilst waiting for the outcome of the FCA’s legal action. We will continue to keep this page updated as more information becomes available.
We have also recently written to major insurers outlining the impact of the FCA’s announcement on our handling of cases – and inviting further information from insurers on the policies sold and issues they’re seeing. We also continue to engage with a range of stakeholders on this issue, including those representing small businesses.
Fraud and scams
- Watch out for scams related to Covid-19. These may take many forms, but fraudsters are targeting small businesses by pretending to be from local councils, government bodies or their banks. These scams are often sophisticated and some are using information about the Covid-19 financial support available to small businesses to make it look like they are genuine.
- Some companies are charging upfront fees to help small businesses apply for loans and government grants when this isn’t necessary.
- You can read more about how to avoid fraud and scams, and protect your personal information, on our main site.
- If you think you have become a victim of a scam, the first thing you should do is contact your bank or finance provider and explain what's happened. If you're not happy with what they say, then you can make a complaint. If you’re not sure how to do this, contact us and we can help. The financial business should look into things and reply within 15 days. If you’re not happy with their response, or if it doesn't reply in time, you can bring your complaint to us. We’ll check it’s something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate and let you and the financial business know what we think.
Help and resources for small businesses
So far we've only had a handful of complaints referred to us concerning the impacts of Covid-19. However we will be continuing to monitor complaints, ensuring that businesses are being fair in their assessment and handling of complaints involving Covid-19.
- The Government has set out on its website details of the financial support that's available to businesses.