AFCA has received more than 11,000 complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic since early March 2020.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 last year (March 12 AEDT). AFCA had begun collecting data on COVID-19 complaints a week earlier.
AFCA’s data shows that between March 3 last year and February 28 this year there were 11,482 COVID-19 related complaints about financial products or services. That was 15% – or one in seven – of all complaints over that March-February period.
The bulk of COVID-related complaints (65%) came through in the first six months from March last year, as consumers and firms came to grips with its impacts. There was then a trend downwards as financial firms fine-tuned their responses, activities like travel reduced and the economy steadied.
One year on, AFCA has been able to resolve nearly 90% of the COVID-related complaints it received – in the vast majority of cases by helping individual complainants and financial firms reach agreement.
Among COVID-19 associated complaints, travel insurance was the most complained about product type, with 3,516 complaints across a year of the pandemic, though the rate fell sharply as travel reduced.
“While not seeking to downplay the challenges people have faced, and continue to face, AFCA received fewer COIVD-19 related complaints than we thought might arise from the pandemic,” AFCA’s Chief Operating Officer Justin Untersteiner said.
“Banks were quick to respond, providing emergency support as they handled unprecedented numbers of requests for repayment deferrals. Superannuation funds worked with us to resolve consumer concerns about early access to super funds. Government financial support measures also played a vital role.”
See the COVID-19 complaints snapshot here.
Published: 10 March 2021
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The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a non-government ombudsman service providing free, fair and independent help with financial disputes. It is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses who have a dispute with their financial firm, over things such as banking, credit, insurance, advice, investments or superannuation. Where an agreement cannot be reached between parties, AFCA can issue decisions that are binding on financial firms.