The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has launched a support hotline for those impacted by the devastating Australian bushfires and has cautioned people to think twice before signing binding contracts with insurance middlemen.
The AFCA Bushfire Support Line (1800 337 444) is part of AFCA’s disaster response process which identifies and expedites complaints about financial products and services from the impacted communities.
AFCA CEO Justin Untersteiner said AFCA was ready and willing to assist to ensure financial complaints are resolved quickly.
“If you’re affected by the bushfires, and you find yourself in a dispute with your insurer or financial provider about a claim or request for assistance, AFCA can help resolve it,” Mr Untersteiner said.
“We have special processes that identify and fast-track complaints from people, primary producers and small businesses in impacted communities, so we can assist you to resolve complaints as quickly as possible.”
Earlier this month, AFCA set up a dedicated bushfire disaster support portal for individuals and small businesses impacted by the fires to help them navigate the insurance and financial hardship assistance processes.
AFCA also cautioned people to think twice before signing contracts with claims management companies.
Mr Untersteiner explained: “AFCA has heard reports of claims management companies charging people to manage disputes with financial firms.
“While not illegal, AFCA is concerned that people are being charged excessive costs and/or a percentage of the sum recovered, when in reality the service provided is of no real benefit to the person.
“AFCA warns against signing binding contracts with claims management companies unless people clearly understand the likely cost implications. In most cases, it is not necessary or of any real value.”
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business.
Maja has an extensive career as a journalist across finance, business and market intelligence. Prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja spent several years unravelling social, political and economic intricacies in Eastern Europe.