The UK Financial Services Authority has called for an improvement in the standards of cold calling when selling general insurance to ensure customers are being treated fairly.

The regulatory body reviewed a sample of 43 firms and examined their sales process, systems and controls and whether they were treating customers fairly when selling general insurance over the telephone.

The investigation found that the standard of sales was generally acceptable when customers were calling the firm, although the disclosure of significant exclusions and limitations could be improved.

However, sales of insurance policies such as personal accident insurance or health cash plans made through cold calling were classed as poor, with main weaknesses identified in the training programs, supervision of staff and a lack of management information other than for sales and call volumes.

Where problems have been identified with cold calling, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has stated that swift action has been taken to improve the treatment of customers, which includes voluntary suspension of sales until deficiencies have been rectified, reviews of rejected claims to ensure that they had not been rejected where the customer may have been led to believe that they were in fact covered, and agreement to assess future claims on the basis of what customers were actually told at the point of sale in cases where the salesperson did not follow the sales script.