Update 2 January 2020:
A series of fires across NSW, QLD, SA and VIC have impacted homes and businesses from 8 November 2019 to date.
A catastrophe was declared by the Insurance Council of Australia on 8 November and remains open whilst the fire emergency continues. The area defined by this declaration has grown over the bushfire season and the event now encompasses over 236 postcodes.
AFCA has updated its significant event response in line with this.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has activated its significant event response plan following the Australian Bushfires 2019-2020, being declared a catastrophe on 9 November 2019 by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). The significant event response plan is activated for events that can potentially result in significant numbers of related complaints coming to AFCA. It provides for early communication with relevant stakeholders and a more streamlined, expedited process for the resolution of related complaints.
Have you been affected?
If you have been affected by the Australian Bushfires 2019-2020, we encourage you to contact your insurance company.
For help with the claims process, or if you are unable to contact your insurance company, please call the Insurance Council of Australia disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.
How we can help you
AFCA offers free and accessible dispute resolution services to consumers and small businesses impacted by this event. If you have raised a complaint with your insurance company but you have been unable to resolve the matter, you can then come to us for assistance. Please note, we are only able to consider your complaint once you have raised the matter with your insurer.
If you encounter difficulties relating to your insurance claims which you are unable to resolve directly with your insurer, you can register your complaint with us using our online complaint form or by calling 1800 931 678. More information about the process we follow to resolve complaints is available on our website.
People affected by natural disasters can experience both short-term and long-term financial difficulties, ranging from lost credit cards and problems accessing cash through to being unable to make loan repayments. Banks and other financial services providers generally provide assistance to customers in cases of genuine hardship.
If you encounter difficulties relating to a financial hardship application, you can make a complaint to us online, or call us on 1800 931 678.
More information on natural disasters and financial hardship can be found in this fact sheet. Please make sure you notify us that you have been affected by the Australian Bushfires 2019-2020 when you make your complaint.
Insurance claims – cooling off period
The General Insurance Code of Practice Catastrophes section provides for a cooling offer period for claims arising from a natural catastrophe or disaster. If your insurer is a member of the General Insurance Code of Practice (the Code) and it finalised your claim within one month of a natural catastrophe or disaster, you have a six-month cooling off period to check whether your claim included everything that was lost or damaged. The cooling off period is available to you even though you may have signed a release when your claim was finalised.
If you think the assessment of your loss was not complete or accurate, contact your insurer and ask it to review your claim.
Some insurers also have guidelines which allow a review of your claim arising from a natural disaster at any time after finalisation.
Find out if your insurer is a member of the Code.