IFSO Scheme releases 21st Annual Report

28 September 2016

21 years’ experience resolving complaints can help to improve businesses and empower customers, says the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme.

Established in 1995, the IFSO Scheme has come of age. Releasing its Annual Report today, Chair of the IFSO Scheme Commission, Dame Paula Rebstock, says "over 21 years, a dispute resolution scheme gains considerable knowledge and experience about the range of issues facing an industry. This knowledge and experience is valuable for financial service providers and their customers, because it is effectively an encyclopaedia of what can and does go wrong".

The 2015-2016 Annual Report, shows the IFSO Scheme received 272 complaints (up from 254 in the previous year) and responded to 3,193 complaint enquiries (up from 3,057 in the previous year).

“What we learn from complaints can prevent similar cases arising in the future,” says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Karen Stevens. “Complaints contain lessons about what goes wrong. We publish anonymised summaries of complaints on our website, and we draw on this knowledge when we provide training for the industry and information for consumers about how to avoid future issues.”

“By providing this information, we aim to improve the business practices of our participating financial service providers, helping them to help their customers.”

The greatest number of complaints (165 or 61%) related to general insurance which includes house, vehicle, contents and travel insurance; followed by complaints related to health, life and disability insurance (83 or 30%).

“Some common complaints could be avoided,” says Karen. “For example, consumers need to understand that insurance does not cover you for all things at all times. Gradual damage, mechanical breakdown and pre-existing health conditions are examples of exclusions in insurance policies that result in complaints to the IFSO Scheme. Clearly, this is an area that requires further consumer education, and we have highlighted cases in the Annual Report.”

Complaints about the Canterbury earthquake made up 37 of the 272 complaints. In total, the IFSO Scheme has dealt with 179 Canterbury earthquake complaints and 1,732 complaint enquiries since 2010.

Complaints about financial advisers remain relatively low (8 complaints up from 5 the previous year), together with credit contract complaints (10 complaints, up from 5).

“We have provided an independent, impartial and free service for consumers for 21 years,” says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens. “We encourage people to contact us if they have an issue with their insurer or financial service provider.”

The Annual Report Summary and the full Annual Report are available from the IFSO Scheme website: www.ifso.nz