Know Risk is a community education program designed by the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) to improve our understanding of insurance and how it relates to managing the many risks we all face in life.
Who do you call if you're having problems.
It’s in the interests of the insurer or financial services company and the consumer to be able to find a solution if there is a problem regarding an insurance contract or superannuation. Both the federal government and State/Territory governments have introduced laws to protect consumers from unfair treatment. These laws attempt to ensure that all those involved in the financial service industry act in a responsible way.
Seeking a remedy
The insurance industry has also written its own Code of Practice, known as the General Insurance Code of Practice, that sets out the minimum service standards expected from its members. This is code aims to raise the standard of practice and service in the insurance industry. Although the Code does not provide any specific consumer compensation, it does require insurers to establish dispute-handling procedures. Sanctions may be imposed on insurers if they fail to meet the Code’s requirements.
I have a complaint, what should I do?
The first step is to take the complaint directly to the insurer. In most cases, any questions and concerns can be sorted out quickly and easily. The insurer must follow the Code of Practice and respond to complaints promptly and present an outcome progress report. Consumers can also follow a complaints process to seek satisfaction from an insurer.
What happens if a satisfactory solution can’t be reached?
If a consumer is still not satisfied, they can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service in Australia or New Zealand. This service offers an independent and unbiased solution to assist consumers. Any decision made by the Ombudsman is binding, and will require the insurer to correct the problem if is at fault. The service handles most problems relating to general insurance—home building, home contents, motor vehicle, travel, sickness and accident, consumer credit, pleasure craft (boats), valuables and personal property—most domestic insurance.
For further peace of mind, governments have also passed laws to protect consumers, such as privacy laws that restrict insurance companies from collecting or misusing information about consumers.