The Australian Financial Complaints Authority sends its profound condolences to the communities impacted by the devastating bushfires currently burning across New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.
To help in the support effort, AFCA has established a dedicated online bushfire support information hub (afca.org.au/bushfiresupport). This explains the financial recovery support AFCA can provide to families and small businesses impacted by the Australian bushfires.
Rob Guest, Executive General Manager, Customer Service & Resolution, said that AFCA is committed to ensuring appropriate information is in place for consumers who need to access its services during the ongoing crisis.
“The devastating nature of these fires is horrifying, and our thoughts are with the consumers and small businesses impacted. It’s important that we ensure these communities have timely support and relevant information about financial recovery, and can get financial issues addressed quickly,” said Mr Guest.
Mr Guest says, “We know right now the focus is on ensuring the safety of yourself, your family and your property. If you’ve been impacted, the first step is to contact your insurer or broker to start the claims process. It’s also a good idea to document damage when it’s safe to do so, by taking photos or making notes. If there’s a problem with your claim, it’s important to have evidence you can use to back it up.
“If you have any difficulty in getting your claim assessed, you can come to AFCA. We have special processes that identify and expedite complaints from people in the impacted communities, and we can assist you to resolve any complaints with your financial firm as quickly as possible,” Mr Guest explained.
Beyond problems relating insurance and claims, AFCA is expecting that many people will suddenly be facing financial hardship.
“Many thousands of people have been affected – homes destroyed, people who can’t access their cash or who have lost their credit cards, or who can’t make loan repayments because they have no job to go to anymore. Small businesses will have been lost or be currently inoperable,” said Mr Guest.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship due to the fires, you can contact your bank or financial provider to ask for assistance.
Mr Guest said he wants to make sure people are aware of AFCA and its service and that they know to reach out to AFCA if needed.
“If you find yourself having trouble with your insurer or financial provider about your claim or request for hardship assistance, you can talk to AFCA to get help,” he said.
AFCA’s bushfire support information hub is online at afca.org.au/bushfiresupport. We are also providing this information over the phone on 1800 931 678.
If you are affected by the bushfires:
- Lodge a claim directly with your insurer or broker
- If you are unable to contact your insurer or broker or are unhappy with their response, contact them directly or lodge a complaint with AFCA
- If you are not happy with the outcome of your claim, delays with the claim, the proposed settlement or the service you have received, lodge a complaint with AFCA
- See afca.org.au/bushfiresupport or call 1800 931 678 for more information and support
Published: 2 January 2020
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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.