Lifesearch has dismissed an adviser and his colleagues who "joked" a client should commit suicide based on his medical history.
The client, referred to as Mr O, had just ended a phone call with his adviser who accidentally re-dialled his number without realising it.
Mr O then heard the adviser's conversation with his colleagues, which included the intermediary swearing about and insulting him plus making offensive remarks about his attitude during the earlier call and about his medical history.
The adviser's colleagues could be heard laughing and commenting in the background.
Extremely upset by what he had heard, Mr O called Lifesearch to complain.
The company investigated and found the outburst Mr O had heard was recorded on its call recording system.
Lifesearch agreed what Mr O heard was unacceptable and the intermediary’s chief executive contacted him to personally apologise and explain the adviser would be immediately dismissed for gross misconduct.
Mr O had applied for insurance through Lifesearch Partners Limited and was told the insurer who was first recommended wouldn’t accept him because of his medical history.
Lifesearch's adviser had rung Mr O to discuss this and suggest making an application to an alternative provider.
At the start of the call, Mr O was annoyed about delay and there was some discussion about alternatives.
Mr O made it clear he was short of time because he was at work, so the adviser agreed to email alternative quotes and the call ended after about three minutes before he was rung again.
Lifesearch offered to pay for a night’s stay in a hotel, and later offered Mr O £250 compensation.
Through his solicitors Mr O, who claimed the incident had left him stressed, suffering from insomnia and on antidepressants didn’t accept that offer, and said he intended to take legal action.
Lifesearch instructed its own solicitors, which offered Mr O £1,500 for compensation and his costs, subject to him agreeing to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
But Mr O didn't agree to that and complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
He demanded £25,000 compensation but while ombudsman Simon Pugh upheld the complaint, he ordered Lifesearch to pay £2,000 instead.
Mr Pugh said: "The content of the conversation Mr O overhead was, in my view, shocking, offensive and utterly appalling. [The adviser] swore repeatedly, violently and extremely strongly, about Mr O. He insulted him. He mocked his medical history.
"He even expressed the view that Mr O ought to have committed suicide in the context of what he’d learned about Mr O's medical history. It was inexcusable. This conversation should never have taken place.
"Even had Mr O never heard it, it would have been wrong to have insulted him, shared his medical history and mocked him in this way. But Mr O did hear it. He listened to everything [the adviser] said about him, and heard the laughter of [the adviser's] colleagues. He should never have been put in this position.