The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has activated its significant event response plan following the Southeast Queensland and New South Wales Severe Weather and Flooding being declared a catastrophe on 26 February 2022 by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).
The significant event response plan is activated for events that can potentially result in significant numbers of related complaints coming to AFCA. It provides for early communication with relevant stakeholders and a more streamlined, expedited process for the resolution of related complaints.
Have you been affected?
If you have been affected by severe weather and flooding in Mullumbimby, Casino, Ballina, Brisbane North, Lismore or Gatton, we encourage you to contact your insurance company.
For help with the claims process, or if you are unable to contact your insurance company, please call the Insurance Council of Australia disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.
How we can help you
AFCA offers free and accessible dispute resolution services to consumers and small businesses impacted by this event. If you have raised a complaint with your insurance company about a claim but you have been unable to resolve the matter, you can then come to us for help. Please note, we are only able to consider your complaint once you have raised the matter with your insurer.
If you encounter difficulties relating to your insurance claims which you are unable to resolve directly with your insurer, you can make a complaint with us using our online complaint form or by calling 1800 931 678. More information about the process we follow to resolve complaints is available on our website.
People affected by natural disasters can experience both short-term and long-term financial difficulties, ranging from lost credit cards and problems accessing cash through to being unable to make loan repayments. Banks and other financial services providers generally provide assistance to customers in cases of genuine hardship.
If you have been impacted by flooding in Mullumbimby, Casino, Ballina, Brisbane North, Lismore or Gatton, and encounter difficulties relating to a financial hardship application, you can make a complaint to us online, or call us on 1800 931 678.
More information on natural disasters and financial hardship can be found in this factsheet.
Please make sure you notify us that you have been affected by the Southeast Queensland and New South Wales Severe Weather and Flooding when you make your complaint.
Insurance claims - cooling off period
The General Insurance Code of Practice Catastrophes section provides for a cooling offer period for claims arising from a natural catastrophe or disaster. If your insurer is a member of the General Insurance Code of Practice (the Code) and it finalised your claim within one month of a natural catastrophe or disaster, you have a 12-month cooling off period to check whether your claim included everything that was lost or damaged. The cooling off period is available to you even though you may have signed a release when your claim was finalised.
If you think the assessment of your loss was not complete or accurate, contact your insurer and ask for it to review your claim.
Some insurers also have guidelines which allow a review of your claim arising from a natural disaster at any time after finalisation.
Find out if your insurer is a member of the Code.
Insurance Council of Australia: flood and storm damage advice
What to do when you return to your property following a flood or storm:
- Safety is the priority - don’t do anything that puts anyone at risk
- Only return to your property when emergency services give the go ahead
- If water has entered the property, don't turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to lodge a claim and seek guidance on the claims process
- You can start cleaning up but first take pictures or videos of damage to the property and possessions as evidence for your claim
- Keep samples of materials and fabrics to show your insurance assessor
- Remove water or mud-damaged goods from your property that might pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings
- Make a list of each item damaged and include a detailed description, such as brand, model and serial number if possible
- Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe
- Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing. Unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy
- Do not throw away goods that could be salvaged or repaired.
AFCA attending ICA meetings in flood-impacted communities
AFCA will be attending the Insurance Council of Australia's in-person meetings with communities in Mullumbimby, Casino, Ballina and Lismore from Monday 5 September to Thursday 22 September. AFCA will also be available for phone consults for residents in Brisbane North and Gatton.
The in-person meetings are an opportunity for customers to discuss the progress of their claim with the ICA, and to work through any sticking points or issues they may be experiencing with their insurer at a time that suits them. AFCA will be able to help residents with next steps should they need to lodge a complaint about their insurer.
Appointments are essential for both the in-person and virtual meetings. To book visit the ICA website.