Financial disputes watchdog records over 72,000 complaints


Complaints against banks, insurers, super funds and financial advisers have risen this year on the back of floods, wild storms and an earthquake.

Australians lodged 72,358 complaints with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority in the past 12 months, up three per cent on the last financial year.

Complaints stemming from natural disasters more than doubled, making for one of the biggest increases, with 1,586 complaints made.

Beefs with the top four banks also rose this year by 10 per cent, collectively making up almost 20,000 or just over a quarter of all complaints to the financial dispute watchdog.

Insurers were also in the firing line of consumers, with the top four comprising about 9,400 complaints, up 19 per cent.

The spike in complaints about general insurance followed an earthquake in Victoria last September, and disastrous storms and flooding across the southern states last October and in Queensland and northern NSW at the start of this year.

Delays in claims handling were also a key issue in home building, home contents and motor vehicle insurance disputes.

AFCA’s Chief Ombudsman, David Locke, acknowledged insurers faced a challenging time as they tried to manage claims and get people back on their feet.

“We know there are significant issues with the supply of things like building materials, parts and labour because of national and global events outside their control,” Mr Locke said.

“Notwithstanding this, we are concerned at the rise in complaints being escalated to AFCA.

“We want to better understand the causes of complaints and we’re eager to work with insurers to help them resolve disputes more quickly and, ultimately, to prevent them.”

When it came to the most complained about product in 2021-22, credit cards topped the list, according to a preliminary data snapshot as at June 30.

Personal bank accounts, home loans, home building insurance and motor vehicle insurance rounded out the top five most commonly complained about products or services.

Complaints which were successful secured more than $200 million in compensation and refunds overall.

The authority’s investigations also led to consumers recouping a total of more than $18 million in remediation payments.

Meanwhile, work on 1,413 complaints had to be paused in 2021-22 because 14 firms became insolvent, affecting consumer claims totalling an estimated $195 million.

Originally published as Financial disputes watchdog records over 72,000 complaints on the back of floods, storms

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