UK's financial ombudsman settled record number of disputes last year

Mon May 19, 2014 7:01pm EDT

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* 519,000 disputes settled, more than double 2012 figure

* PPI complaints account for 78 percent of cases

LONDON May 20 (Reuters) - Britain's Financial Ombudsman Service settled a record 519,000 disputes last year, more than double the number in 2012, with the increase driven by cases relating to the mis-selling of loan insurance.

The independent body, which was set up to deal with disputes where financial services companies and their customers cannot reach agreement, said on Tuesday that payment protection insurance (PPI) accounted for 78 percent of all cases, with the number of PPI complaints rising 6 percent to nearly 400,000.

"It has been an unprecedented 12 months for the ombudsman by anyone's standards," Chief Ombudsman Tony Boorman said.

Banks have set aside more than 20 billion pounds ($33.7 billion) to compensate customers wrongly sold PPI policies, which were meant to protect borrowers against sickness or redundancy but were often sold to customers who didn't want or need them, or who would have been unable to claim on their policies.

Britain's biggest four banks - Lloyds Banking Group , Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland -accounted for 63 percent of total complaints received, up from 62 percent last year.

The ombudsman found in favour of the consumer in 58 percent of cases.

General inquiries received by the ombudsman climbed to 2.3 million, equivalent to 40,000 a week. ($1 = 0.5943 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by David Goodman)

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