6 March 2020
The new Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) Scheme website will make it easier for consumers to find information and make a complaint. "We’re here to help - if you have a question or complaint about your insurer or financial service provider, our service is free, independent and fair,” says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Karen Stevens.
“We have a wealth of information about how and when things go wrong. We’d like to see more things go right, and that’s the aim of sharing consumer tips and cases on our new site, together with industry training and resources – consumer outcomes can improve and problems can be avoided.”
Last year, the IFSO Scheme heard from more than 3,800 consumers and investigated 322 complaints, 225 of these complaints (or 70%) were about general insurance, including house, travel, vehicle, and contents insurance; 80 complaints (25%) were about health, life and disability insurance; 12 complaints were about credit contracts; and 3 were about financial advisers.
“The best time to understand insurance is before you need it,” says Karen. “Every day we hear about problems that could have been avoided if people had been better informed. That’s why we’re sharing real stories about real complaints – from car accidents to holiday mishaps, burglaries, fires, floods, earthquakes, births and deaths – insurance can make a difference to people’s lives. And while insurance won’t cover everything, there are steps you can take to make cover more likely.”
“For example,” says Karen, “check your policy for exclusions, limitations and requirements; keep receipts and records; take photos of damaged property; specify valuable items and get valuations; purchase travel insurance as soon as you purchase your flights; report incidents immediately; tell all and tell the truth. These are the kind of tips we share on our new site.”
“With other financial services, such as financial advice, loans and investments, we say take time before you sign. Ask yourself, is this the right product or service for you? What fees will you be charged? What are your payment obligations? What else do you need to know?”
Perhaps the most important tip of all is to keep asking questions until you understand, and always ask for extra help if you need it. “The same goes for our service. We want the IFSO Scheme to be as accessible as possible,” says Karen. “While our new website should make it easier to find what you need, some people might need help with reading or writing, or completing our online complaint form. Some might like a translation or interpretation service – we can provide that support.”
The IFSO Scheme has been resolving complaints about insurance and financial services for 25 years. Prevention is a top priority. “That means helping consumers understand their options so they can make more informed choices. And if you’re not satisfied, speak up. You have the right to complain to our free and independent service.”
See the IFSO Scheme website: www.ifso.nz
Media contact: Zoe Priestley 021 475 945