The scheme, which came into being from 1999, has handled a total of 6,379 complaints out of which at least 4,414 cases had been disposed of as on March 31, 2003, he said.
Out of this, 2,481 complaints related to life insurance schemes and 3,898 related to general insurance schemes of which at least 60 per cent related to mediclaims, he said.
He said as much as 70 per cent of the complaints related to non-life insurance schemes and the rest related to life insurance schemes mainly of LIC.
Complaints from customers of the new generation private insurance firms numbered hardly 40 to 50, he said, adding this was because they have come in to being only recently.
He said that of the total cases relating to life schemes disposed, 40 to 60 per cent was in favour of the complainants, while it was only 15 per cent in the case of life schemes. Lack of awareness about the ombudsman was the main reason for the insurance customers seeking other cumbersome remedial measures.
The ombudsman appointed in 12 centres in the country first try mediation and then give the award on complaints against which the companies could not go for appeal. Finality and speed with regard to complaints are the major benefits of complaining to the ombudsman as compared to going to courts and consumer redress fora, he said.
The ombudsman centres are presently functioning in Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Kolkata, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
He said the vacancies of ombudsman in some centres would be filled soon, adding, it was also planned to have sittings of ombudsman in adjacent towns for the convenience of complainants.
G Krishnamurthy, insurance ombudsman of Maharashtra and Goa, having additional charge of Chennai, said in Chennai alone the ombudsman handled 581 cases of which, 478 were disposed as on March 31 last.