The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has activated its significant event response plan following the Christmas storms across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria being declared a significant event on 27 December 2023 by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).
Our 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 Christmas storms across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, 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.
We have also shared a factsheet on natural disasters and financial hardship.
Please make sure you notify us that you have been affected by the Christmas storms when you make your complaint.
Support for First Nations communities
AFCA is committed to providing a service that is accessible to everyone. We have strong relationships with organisations that support First Nations communities across Australia, to ensure First Nations communities are aware of their right to complain to the financial ombudsman.
You can find out more about our accessibility and additional support services here.
- Mob Strong, Debt Help - Part of the Financial Rights Legal Centre, Mob Strong, Debt Help is a free legal advice service about money matters for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from anywhere in Australia.
- ICAN - The Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) provides consumer education, advocacy and financial counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ICAN has published information and resources for dealing with the aftermath of storms and floods on its website.
- 13YARN (13 92 76) is a national crisis support line for mob who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping. They offer a confidential one-on-one yarning opportunity with a Lifeline-trained Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander crisis supporter, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Free legal advice
Legal Aid Queensland
- Natural Disaster Legal Helpline: 1300 527 700
- Email: email@example.com
- A guide to getting your insurance claim paid – When disaster strikes – cyclones, storms and floods
Legal Aid New South Wales
- Call: 1300 888 529
- Visit their website
Victoria Legal Aid
- Call: 1300 792 387
- Visit their website
Insurance claims – cooling off period
The General Insurance Code of Practice Catastrophes section provides for a cooling off 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 12-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 for 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.
Insurance Council of Australia: flood and storm damage advice
What to do when you return to your property following a flood or storm:
- Safety is the priority – don’t do anything that puts anyone at risk.
- Only return to your property when emergency services give the go ahead.
- If water has entered the property, don't turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to lodge a claim and seek guidance on the claims process.
- Start the clean up but first take many photos or videos of damage to the property and contents/possessions to support a claim.
- Remove any water damaged items such as soft furnishings and carpet that might pose a health risk from the property. Take a range of photos to support a claim and then dispose of the items. Don’t throw away items that could be repaired, unless they pose a health risk.
- Make a list of each item damaged and include a detailed description, such as brand, model, and serial number if possible.
- Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing, as unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy.
- Do not drive your vehicle if it has suffered water damage.
The ICA have also shared a factsheet on ‘Cleaning up after a disaster’.