14 September 2020
The Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme received 3,922 enquiries and investigated 282 complaints last year, as highlighted in the 2019-2020 Annual Report.
64% of all enquiries (2,500) were about general insurance, including house, vehicle, travel and contents insurance; 14% (558) related to health, life and disability insurance; 12% (458) related to loans or credit contracts; and 4% (143) financial advisers.
Karen Stevens, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, says the focus on improving conduct and culture in the financial services sector may be helping to improve complaint management. “Only by listening to the consumer voice and responding with the correct information at the right time will complaints be managed effectively,” says Karen. “We are noticing the complaints we refer back to insurers on behalf of complainants are being resolved more quickly and settled more often, which is a good sign in terms of the customer experience.”
The next step is to learn from complaint issues and insights, says Karen. “Misunderstanding and miscommunication continue to be common complaint themes. Communication and transparency are even more important in the current climate. During the Covid-19 lockdown, insurers responded quickly with a range of proactive options for customers, particularly for those facing hardship. Credit contract providers also acted quickly to restructure loans, defer payments and waive fees.”
The importance of access to free and independent services is highlighted during times of stress and hardship. The IFSO Scheme received 230 Covid-19 related enquiries to June 30. “We could help provide guidance and connect people to the right place. As always, we encouraged consumers to ask questions and find out about their options before making decisions. This meant contacting airlines and insurers about cancelled travel, finding out about financial hardship options, and, importantly, understanding the consequences of cancelling or altering payments, policies and financial products.”
25 years of IFSO Scheme complaints create a wealth of information about how and when things go wrong. “We share stories from real complaints to help more things go right. Our Annual Report includes examples - from cancelled travel to car accidents, dog troubles, storms, online romance scams, illness, death, and debt - all contain lessons for both consumers and industry. Every day we hear about issues that could have been avoided or better managed. Prevention is the aim.”
The new IFSO Scheme website has improved access to make a complaint or find information, tips and cases, and gives IFSO Scheme Participants access to data, training and resources.
“This extraordinary year will create ongoing challenges. New Zealanders must able to make informed choices, ask questions and voice their concerns. We encourage consumers to contact our free and independent service. The IFSO Scheme is here to help."
See the Annual Report here
The IFSO Scheme resolves complaints about insurance and financial services. Our service is free and independent.