Weather event complaints to Financial Ombudsman service increase

Financial Services Complaints Limited (FSCL), a Financial Ombudsman service, is starting to receive an increase in complaints arising out of the severe weather events that have affected Aotearoa New Zealand this year.

“We are beginning to see more weather-related complaints against financial service providers in the wake of the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle. These range from delays in insurers assessing claims, complaints that insurance brokers didn’t arrange appropriate insurance cover for homes and businesses, and consumers struggling to make loan repayments due to financial hardship,” says financial ombudsman, Susan Taylor.

Ms Taylor says some consumers who were already vulnerable due to the rising cost of living and higher inflation, are being pushed to their financial limits following these weather events, highlighting the importance of independent dispute resolution services.

“We understand this is a stressful time for those who have been impacted. If something has gone wrong with a financial service following a weather-related event, there is free, accessible help through a dispute resolution service. As well as FSCL, there are the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO), the Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BOS) and the Financial Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS).

“I would also urge consumers to speak to their lenders as soon as they begin to struggle to make loan repayments. The earlier the consumer speaks to their lender, the more likely it is that the lender will be able to help.”   

FSCL has also received several complaints relating to sum insured values on home insurance policies.

“As extreme weather events become increasingly common in Aotearoa, more consumers will find themselves unable to rebuild their homes as a result of their sum insured value being set too low,” says Ms Taylor.

“With building costs continuing to rise, and inflation remaining steady, it’s important that consumers regularly review their sum insured. Insurers and brokers could also remind consumers to review their sum insured more often and send out standalone reminders rather than including them at policy renewal.”