2020–21 Annual Review

Significant events

AFCA activates significant event response plans for events that could potentially result in large numbers of related complaints being lodged with AFCA, such as natural disasters and severe weather events.

The significant event response plan provides for early communication with relevant stakeholders, and a more streamlined, expedited process for the resolution of related complaints.

AFCA also regularly engages with industry including ASIC, the Commonwealth Treasury and APRA, as well as industry representatives, such as the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), to ensure our approach to handling these disputes is appropriate.

In the last financial year, AFCA activated five significant event response plans to support those directly impacted. These related to:

  1. Victorian floods and storms – 15 June 2021
  2. Tropical Cyclone Seroja – 14 April 2021
  3. New South Wales and South East Queensland storms and floods – 22 March 2021
  4. Perth Hill bushfires – 5 February 2021
  5. South East Queensland Halloween hailstorms – 1 November 2020.


In total, AFCA received 9,097 complaints related to significant events in 2020–21 (including those related to significant events that had been declared in previous financial years).

The vast majority of those complaints (8,303) related to COVID-19, which was declared a significant event in 2019–20.


AFCA has continued to work hard to respond to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic in a flexible and pragmatic way.

In 2020–21, there were 8,303 COVID-related complaints, up from 5,013 in just four months at the end of 2019–20, after the pandemic was officially declared.

AFCA resolved 9,344 COVID-19, related financial complaints this year. The most common issues seen in complaints about COVID-19 were financial firms’ failure to respond to requests for assistance (1,056), denial of claim – exclusion/condition (822), denial of claim (763) and delay in claim handling (633).

Of the complaints received, 1,995 were from consumers and small businesses experiencing financial difficulties.

Between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021

8,303 complaints received

85% complaints resolved

1,995 complaints involved financial difficulty

COVID-19 complaints by product area 1
Product area Total Percentage
Banking and finance 4,809 58%
General insurance 2,636 32%
Superannuation 484 6%
Investments and advice 313 4%
Life insurance 60 1%
COVID-19 complaints – top 10 products 2
Product Total Percentage
Travel insurance 2,012 24%
Credit cards 1,282 15%
Home loans 1,054 13%
Personal loans 766 9%
Superannuation account 361 4%
Business loans 341 4%
Personal transaction accounts 332 4%
Investment property loans 152 2%
Loss of profits/ business interruption 123 1%
Landlords insurance 119 1%
COVID-19 complaints – top 10 issues 3
Product Total Percentage
Financial firm failure to respond to request for assistance 1,056 11%
Insurance – denial of claim – exclusion/condition 822 9%
Insurance – denial of claim 763 8%
Insurance – delay in claim handling 633 7%
Decline of financial difficulty request 511 6%
Service quality 498 5%
Insurance – claim amount 336 4%
Default listing 279 3%
Incorrect fees/costs 278 3%
Unauthorised transactions 239 3%


1 One complaint can have multiple product areas. Percentages have been rounded and, as a result, do not total to 100%.

2 One complaint can have multiple products.

3 One complaint can have multiple issues.

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