Over 3,000 COVID-19 complaints to AFCA

Over 600 superannuation complaints relating to COVID-19 and delays in early release have been made to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) since the virus was declared a pandemic in March.

AFCA chief operating officer, Justin Untersteiner, said the authority had received over 3,108 complaints including 1,430 banking and finance complaints (with 680 relating to financial difficulty), 1,070 general insurance complaints, and 610 super complaints.

He said the majority of the complaints had been about loan break costs, disputed transactions, requests to extend payment terms, denial of travel insurance claims and delays in early release of superannuation.

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“Many of these complaints result from poor communication, where a consumer has trouble contacting their firm, does not understand their policy, or is confused about the information they receive,” he said.

“To support consumers, we encourage financial firms to ensure their contact details and resources are visible and accessible and allow for genuine engagement with customers to resolve issues early on.”

Untersteiner said he anticipated more financial difficulty complaints over the next six to 18 months.

“We also expect to see an increase in responsible lending complaints, disputes relating to scams, and a rise in business interruption insurance complaints, and additional complaints relating to early access to superannuation from June to September,” he said.

“We encourage financial firms to minimise COVID-19 related disputes by communicating with consumers early, speaking in plain English, proactively setting customer expectations around delays, reviewing internal dispute resolution processes and regularly engaging with AFCA.”

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