We have Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about our dispute resolution service below. If you question is not answered in this section, or if you are unsure about anything just call us on 0800 888 202 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
For frequently asked questions for specific areas in financial services go to our tips and cases section or click on these links and scroll down to the FAQ section: vehicle insurance, home and contents insurance, health insurance, life insurance, Financial Advice Providers and financial advisers, loans and credit, superannuation including KiwiSaver and investments.
It’s easy to send us an enquiry or make a complaint, phone 0800 888 202 or fill in the online Enquiry/Complaint Form.
You can watch our 3-minute video on how to use the online enquiry/complaint form.
If you need help to make a complaint to your financial services provider, contact us. We can help you to complete the online complaint form and pass it on to your financial services provider for you.
We can’t give you advice about a complaint or an enquiry like a lawyer can, but we can give you information. If you need advice about your complaint, try your local Community Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau.
We can look at complaints about financial services provided by financial services providers that are Participants in the IFSO Scheme. The most common complaints are about:
We can investigate complaints where the amount claimed is no more than $350,000+GST. If your whole claim is for more than that amount, but the part you are complaining about is less than $350,000+GST and the insurer has accepted a claim, we can look at the complaint.
If you are complaining about a product that provides regular payments instead of a lump sum payment, then we can look at it if the weekly amount paid is not more than $2,625+GST a week.
We can’t look at complaints about a financial service provider’s:
We also don’t look at complaints:
If you’re not sure whether we can look at your complaint, call us on 0800 888 202 or check paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of our Terms of Reference here.
Our Terms of Reference allow your financial service provider to try to resolve your complaint before we consider it. That means, if you contact us about a complaint you haven’t raised with your financial services provider, we will usually refer the complaint back to them to try to resolve it.
From our experience, in about 90% of cases, the financial service provider will be able to help you get to an acceptable outcome, without the need to go through our formal investigation process.
Either we can refer the complaint to them on your behalf, or you can refer the complaint to them yourself. In either case, we will check in with you after a period of time and help you with the next steps if the complaint has not been resolved.
The easiest way to have us refer the complaint to your financial services provider is to complete our online complaint form and tick the box saying, “Please send my complaint to my financial service provider for me”.
Our Terms of Reference allow your financial service provider to try to resolve your complaint before we consider it. Your financial service provider must have an internal complaints process they use to consider and review your complaint. If you have raised the complaint with them already, but it has not been through its internal complaints process or through the whole internal complaints process, we will usually refer the complaint back to them to try to resolve it. From our experience, in about 90% of cases, the financial service provider will be able to help you get to an acceptable outcome, without the need to go through our formal investigation process.
Your financial services provider has 2 months to resolve the complaint with you. If, at the end of that time, it has not resolved the complaint, they must tell you that you have reached the end of their internal complaints process (also referred to as having reached “deadlock”) and they must refer you to the IFSO Scheme.
We refer to a complaint reaching “deadlock” if a financial services provider has considered your complaint and has not been able to resolve it. Usually, that happens at the end of the financial services provider’s internal complaints process, but if it is more than 2 months since the complaint was made and we consider the financial service provider is not able to resolve the complaint, the IFSO Scheme may decide “deadlock” has been reached.
From 1 September 2023, the IFSO Scheme can investigate complaints about insurance claims, credit and other financial services/ products up to $350,000+GST, or $2,625+GST per week for regular payments. These limits were previously $200,000+GST and $1,500+GST.
To know which limit will apply to your complaint, check the date you were told your complaint had reached the end of your financial service provider’s complaints process, often called “deadlock” (see above).
If you have a complaint that reached “deadlock” before 1 September 2023, the old limits will apply, regardless of the date you contact the IFSO Scheme. If you have a complaint that reached “deadlock” after 1 September 2023, the new limits apply.
No, the IFSO Scheme provides a free service to consumers.
You usually have 3 months from the date you are told “deadlock” has been reached to refer the complaint to the IFSO Scheme.
If you are unsure about how this timeframe applies to your complaint, call us to discuss your options.
We don’t investigate all complaints made to us. When we get a complaint that has reached “deadlock”, we will first check that it is within our jurisdiction (see the FAQs “What can the IFSO Scheme look at?” and “What can’t the IFSO Scheme look at?”). That is when we will make a decision. You will have the opportunity to say why you think we should look at it, but we make the decision.
After the IFSO Scheme accepts a complaint that has reached “deadlock”, it is allocated to a case manager who investigates it.
We are neutral - we do not take sides. We use an inquisitorial process, which means we get the information and evidence we need to be able to consider the complaint. We will talk to you and the financial services provider and get information and supporting documents/evidence from both of you. Sometimes we also need to get information from third parties or experts, such as doctors, mechanics, or engineers.
Where possible, the case manager will try to resolve the complaint by agreement using negotiation, conciliation or, sometimes, mediation. If that is not possible, the case manager will make a decision.
If the complaint is resolved by agreement, that agreement is binding on both parties. You may be asked to sign something confirming that.
Where the complaint is not resolved and the IFSO Scheme makes a decision, that decision is binding on you and the financial services provider if you accept the decision. If you do not accept the decision, none of your legal rights have been compromised by making a complaint to the IFSO Scheme. You are able to pursue the complaint in the Disputes Tribunal or a Court.
It is important to remember that we cannot always give you the outcome you want. If the insurance policy has an exclusion that applies, or the cover is not broad enough to cover the claim, or the loan agreement clearly states that fees and interest are payable, we may not be able to help you.
Financial service providers that are members of the IFSO Scheme are bound by confidentiality rules as part of their membership obligations.
Before we can start investigating your complaint, we will ask you to sign a Privacy and Confidentiality Declaration, confirming you will keep all information provided to you by the IFSO Scheme confidential. Exceptions to the confidentiality rules are made when you need help with the complaint. You are able to discuss this with your lawyer, accountant, insurer or to get expert advice, for example, to decide if you should accept an offer of settlement or an IFSO Scheme decision. You can also have someone act as your representative – see below – and they will have to sign the same Privacy and Confidentiality Declaration and follow the same confidentiality rules.
The Declaration also authorises us to get information relevant to the complaint from the financial service provider and others and to provide information to them in order to investigate the complaint. This is because the IFSO Scheme investigates complaints on a confidential and “without prejudice” basis that allows you and your financial service provider to discuss the complaint and explore options for resolving it fully and frankly.
We produce case study summaries of complaints we have investigated so consumers and financial service providers that are members of the IFSO Scheme understand our approach. However, they are anonymised and do not include information that identifies Complainants or financial service providers.
The IFSO Scheme’s Terms of Reference set out the criteria we must use to make a decision about a complaint. They say we must make a decision by reference to what, in our opinion, is fair and reasonable in all of the circumstances. In doing that, we may consider:
We have published this Guidance explaining how we use our fair and reasonable jurisdiction on our website.
Where the IFSO Scheme makes a decision, that decision is binding on you and the financial services provider if you accept the decision.
If you do not accept the decision, none of your legal rights have been compromised by making a complaint to the IFSO Scheme. You can pursue the complaint in the Disputes Tribunal or a Court.
Almost 80% of the complaints we investigate are resolved in less than 90 days. Some cases are complex and will take longer, and others are more straight forward and will be resolved more quickly. We will keep you informed of your complaint’s progress and the likely timeframes.
Yes. If you want or need someone, you can appoint a representative to help you to make a complaint. They are usually a member of your family, a friend, a financial mentor or a person from a Community Law Centre.
To protect your privacy and to make sure your representative has authority to act on your behalf, we will need you to sign our confirmation that you are appointing the representative and that you authorise us to deal with the representative. Your representative will also need to sign a Privacy and Confidentiality Declaration agreeing to be bound by the same IFSO Scheme privacy and confidentiality rules as you are.
Even if you have authorised a representative, there will be some circumstances where we need to communicate directly with you. We may, for example, need to get information about the circumstance of the complaint directly from you. We will also copy you into our communications about settlement offers and any decision we make.
If you are a representative, we expect you to act in the best interests of the person you represent. We expect you to keep the Complainant informed of what is happening with the investigation, to discuss settlement offers and decisions with them and to accurately provide us with their responses.
To act as a representative, simply indicate on our online complaint form that your role is a representative and we will contact you with next steps.
We welcome feedback, compliments or complaints. If you are not satisfied with any aspect of our service or our process, you can make a service complaint about the IFSO Scheme by emailing email@example.com. Just tell us what the issue is and what you want to happen. If you need any help, please call us on 0800 888 202.
However, service complaints are about the service we provided. They are not a review of a complaint decision or outcome. We will respond to your service complaint as quickly as possible. If we need to get specialist advice or make further enquiries, it may take more time, but we will let you know the timeframe to expect.
The IFSO Scheme considers complaints about financial service providers that are Participants in the IFSO Scheme. You can check if your financial service provider is part of the IFSO Scheme on our Find a Participant page or, call us on 0800 888 202 if you have trouble finding your financial service provider.
If you have made a complaint to us and your financial service provider is not a Participant of the IFSO Scheme, we will refer your complaint to the appropriate Dispute Resolution Scheme.
We can arrange an interpreter by telephone, and for the hearing impaired and deaf we use the NZ Relay Service.
We have information available on our complaint process on our website in 7 languages. Alternatively, you can ask someone else to call us on your behalf, we will do our best to make sure you are able to access our translation services.
Yes. If you breach the confidentiality agreement by telling someone other than your lawyer, representative or adviser about what is happening with the complaint, we can stop looking at it. This is because, like any negotiation, it is confidential to the parties involved.
Another reason the IFSO Scheme might stop considering your complaint is if you breach our The IFSO Scheme's Service Charter, by harassing or abusing our staff. We do not tolerate bad behaviour of any sort. We are here to help and aim to work together to resolve your complaint.