Business

Third of adults ‘think they are vulnerable when dealing with financial firms'

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NEARLY a third of adults in Northern Ireland consider themselves to be vulnerable customers when dealing with financial firms such as banks and insurers, a survey has found.

Some 30 per cent of people - the jointly highest rate (with Wales) in the UK - said they were in the category which is more at risk of consumer harm due to personal circumstances, perhaps due to worries about mental or physical health or money.

People in their mid-40s to mid-50s were particularly likely to see themselves as vulnerable, as were over-65s, according to the findings from analytics company Consumer Intelligence.

People could be vulnerable for various reasons, including short-term or longer-term emotional, mental, physical, financial or social circumstances. These customers may be at particular risk of consumer harm if a firm is not behaving with an appropriate level of care.

More than a third (36 per cent) of people who identified as vulnerable were very worried about their family's physical health and 26 per cent were concerned about their own mental health.

When similar research was conducted in March last year, just 13 per cent identified themselves as vulnerable.

Financial firms including banks and insurers have offered customers wide-ranging help to support them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The findings are contained in a vulnerable customer report from Consumer Intelligence, which focuses on the home and motor insurance markets, launched in collaboration with consultancy firm Sicsic Advisory.

The research suggests that vulnerable customers are more likely to automatically believe what a company tells them.

Consumer Intelligence chief executive Ian Hughes said: “Stressed, worried and distracted people – especially those under financial pressure – think very differently about insurance, interact differently with insurance companies, shop differently and claim differently.”

He added that vulnerable people “need the protection of banks and insurers more than ever, and to know that they are getting the right information at the right time, the right products and the right price”.

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