The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has now received about 950 complaints from flood-affected consumers, six months on from the start of the South-East Queensland/northern NSW floods.
Delays in claims handling are the most common cause of dispute, followed by claim amounts and claim denials, AFCA said.
“The scale and intensity of this natural disaster means it continues to have a significant impact on people,” AFCA’s Lead Ombudsmen for Insurance, Emma Curtis, said. “Everyone’s wish is for those affected to be able to get back on their feet and on with their lives.
“People should always talk to their insurers first about any concerns they have, but AFCA is here to help consumers and insurers resolve complaints when they can’t find a way through on their own.”
AFCA has expanded its general insurance complaints team in response to the unusually high number of complaints because of the scale of the disaster. It activated its “significant event” response plan after the flooding began in February, giving priority to urgent, flood-related financial complaints.
Ms Curtis said consumers should:
• talk to their insurer first if they have any concerns or questions
• make a complaint to the insurer if their concerns aren’t addressed
• contact AFCA if they remain unhappy at the end of that internal complaint process
“Remember that you can come directly to us – you don’t need to pay someone to represent you,” Ms Curtis said. “AFCA was designed to be a free and accessible alternative to a court or tribunal. Of course, you can appoint someone like a financial counsellor, family member or someone else assist you, if you’d prefer.”
An AFCA representative will be attending Insurance Council of Australia in-person meetings in northern NSW this month. (See the ICA website for dates, locations and bookings). People can also call AFCA’s ‘significant event’ hotline on 1800 337 444 or visit afca.org.au for more information.
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- The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a non-government ombudsman service providing free, fair and independent help with financial disputes.
- AFCA is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses who have a dispute with their financial firm, over things such as banking, credit, insurance, advice, investments or superannuation.
- Where an agreement cannot be reached between parties, AFCA can issue decisions that are binding on financial firms.