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» Interest rates and service
» Financial difficulty and credit ratings
» Credit cards
» Insurance cover
» Insurance claims
» Home building and contents insurance
» Motor vehicle insurance
» Travel insurance
Can I complain about interest rates and fees?
The Financial Ombudsman Service does not regulate the banking industry and cannot review interest rate policies of financial services providers. If you believe that your financial services provider has applied an incorrect interest rate to your loan – in error or in breach of a contract - this is a matter that we can consider. The Financial Ombudsman Service cannot consider disputes about fees and fee levels generally. If you believe that you have been charged a fee that is not in accordance with your contract, this is a matter we may be able to consider.
Can I complain about bad service, branch closures or long waiting times in branches?
These are service issues, which fall outside the jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service. If you wish to complain about these sorts of matters, contact the Customer Relations area of your financial services provider.
I had an account years ago. What happened to my money?
Check the ASIC website to find out if any unclaimed money is listed in your name. ASIC provides a service for recovering unclaimed moneys. If you believe that your financial services provider has lost your money, write to us with as many details as you can about your account.
Can I complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service about a bank’s refusal to give me a loan?
No. The Financial Ombudsman Service cannot consider a dispute about a financial service provider’s commercial judgement in relation to lending or security. The Financial Ombudsman Service cannot compel a financial services provider to provide credit to you, or to give you a reason for declining an application for credit.
I have an agreement with my former business (or life) partner that they will make the payments on a loan that I was previously liable for. Now the bank is chasing me because my former partner is behind on the payments. Can I complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service?
If the bank was not a party to the agreement you made with your former partner, then the bank is not bound to follow the terms of the agreement. You are still ultimately responsible for the loan, and the bank can still chase you for the payments. The Financial Ombudsman Service could only consider your request for assistance if you are in financial difficulty.
I can’t meet repayments due to financial difficulty. What can I do?
If you feel that you need assistance from a financial counsellor, contact us and we can give you contact details for counsellors in your area. If you are suffering financial difficulty, contact your financial services provider and advise it of your circumstances. Ask if it is possible to have your repayments varied for a time to enable you to overcome your present difficulties. If you believe that your financial services provider has not given consideration to your request, write to us.
I want a default listing removed from my credit file. Can the Financial Ombudsman Service help me?
The Financial Ombudsman Service can consider disputes about credit listings and can investigate whether, in making a listing, the financial services provider complied with the relevant laws. The Financial Ombudsman Service can also investigate a claim that a credit file contains inaccurate information. If you believe that a listing has been made in error, or your credit file is inaccurate, provide the Financial Ombudsman Service with a full copy of your credit file and details of the error. In the absence of error, the Financial Ombudsman Service cannot require the removal of a listing.
My credit or debit card was stolen. What should I do?
If you have not already done so, you should contact your financial services provider immediately and have the card cancelled. If transactions have been processed to your card after the theft, ask the financial services provider what you need to do to dispute the charges. If after you dispute the charges, the bank says that you are held liable for unauthorised charges and you believe that you should not be liable, you can lodge a dispute with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
I have an agreement with my former business (or life) partner that they will make the payments on a credit card that I was previously liable for. Now the bank is chasing me because my former partner is behind on the payments. Can I complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service?
If the bank was not a party to the agreement you made with your former partner, then the bank is not bound to follow the terms of the agreement. You are still ultimately responsible for the credit card, and the bank can still chase you for the payments. The Financial Ombudsman Service could only consider your request for assistance if you are in financial difficulty.
I believe that my privacy has been breached. Can I complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service?
The Financial Ombudsman Service can consider disputes about privacy breaches by financial services providers. Alternatively, you can take your complaint to the Federal Privacy Commissioner.
Who can help me get insurance cover?
You can contact insurers directly. A list of insurers is available on our website. Alternatively an insurance broker or an insurance adviser will be able to assist you. For information on brokers go to the National Insurance Brokers Association website www.niba.com.au. Alternatively use a local Yellow Pages directory. For information on insurance advisers go to the Insurance Advisers Association of Australia website www.iaaa.com.au.
I am self employed and have to obtain public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance. My car and home and contents insurer will not do this. Where do I go?
Some general insurers will only place domestic and not business risks. Depending on your occupation, you may be able to obtain a small business insurance package with one of the larger insurers. Alternatively an insurance broker or adviser will be able to assist you. See above answer for contact details.
Can an insurer refuse to insure me?
Yes. However you can ask the insurer why they have refused to insure you. If you are unhappy with their reasons you can ask the insurer to review their decision through their internal dispute resolution process.
How long should it take to process a claim?
The time frame for processing a claim will vary depending on the type and severity of the claim. Your insurer should be able to provide you with an approximate time frame and keep you informed on the progress of your claim.
What can I do if the claim process is taking too long?
If you are not happy with the time being taken by your insurer, you should contact the claims manager. If you are still unhappy with the response you should ask the insurer to review it through their internal dispute resolution process.
Is my insurer entitled to have an investigator look into my claim?
Yes. In some instances your insurer may wish to confirm whether a claim is genuine and may appoint an investigator to examine the claim. You should co-operate with the investigator and provide them with the information you are asked for. In some cases this may include your driving history, financial records, telephone records or criminal history. If you are unhappy with the way the investigator questions you or if you have concerns about the information asked for, please inform your insurer.
Does my home and contents policy cover me for flood or water damage?
You will need to check the definitions of what is and what is NOT covered in your policy wording or ask your insurer.
Can my insurer insist on replacing lost or stolen items instead of settling by cash?
It depends on your policy, but generally most contents policies say that the insurer can replace stolen or lost items instead of settling for cash. Check your policy wording. However, if the stolen or lost items are special and cannot be replaced you can ask your insurer if it will settle the claim for cash.
Do I have the right to select my own tradesman to repair damage?
Your insurance policy will indicate whether this is possible. You may wish to ask your insurer.
What can I do if I am not happy with the insurer's offer for the total loss of my motor vehicle?
If you feel your insurer has undervalued your motor vehicle, you will need to provide evidence supporting this. You can research the price of similar motor vehicles of a similar condition on the internet, magazines and newspapers and dealers' guides. Ask your insurer how they calculated the amount and provide them with the information you have found. If you are still unhappy you can ask for the decision to be reviewed through your insurer's internal dispute resolution process.
My insurer has decided my motor vehicle is a total loss. Is my insurer entitled to keep the balance of the 12-month premium paid, vehicle registration and salvage?
Generally yes, but it depends on your policy wording so check your policy or contact your insurer.
Am I entitled to a hire car if the motor accident was not my fault?
Generally no, unless it is specifically provided for in your policy. You will need to check your policy wording or contact your insurer.
How do I claim against the other driver where the motor accident was not my fault?
You can send a letter to the driver at fault with a quote for repairs and ask them to pay the cost of damage to your motor vehicle, or get legal assitance to do so. If you are insured you may wish to submit the claim through your insurer.
Do I have to pay an excess and will I lose my no claim bonus if I have a motor accident that is not my fault?
Some insurance policies require you to pay the excess each time you make a claim, whether you are at fault or not. If your insurer is satisfied that you were not at fault, your insurer may attempt to recover the cost of repairs from the other driver. If the other party accepts they were at fault, your no claim bonus will be reinstated and your excess may be refunded. Check your policy wording or ask your insurer for clarification.
Do I have the right to select my own repairer?
Your insurance policy will indicate whether this is possible. You may wish to ask your insurer. Some insurers charge an additional premium for choice of repairer.
I am over 70 and would like to travel. Can I get travel insurance?
It is important to consider what you need at the outset and look at the policies available to see which best meets your needs. Many insurers have identified that as we grow older and wealthier, many of us are travelling more. As a consequence there are a range of policies available exclusively for senior travellers.
The most important consideration is to ensure that you are clear in your application for insurance about any pre-existing medical conditions, particularly those related directly or indirectly to heart disease. Future claims can be rejected if disclosure has not occurred ahead of purchasing the policy. Cover may still be granted for payment of an additional premium.
I have recently been unwell. Will that mean that I cannot get travel insurance cover?
Many of us get sick. What is important to determine is if what you have experienced is what is regarded by your intended insurer as a medical condition. The definition of an existing medical condition, and the conditions that apply to it, vary from policy to policy. So it’s crucial that you check with your travel insurer how your travel policy defines an existing medical condition, including who it will apply to. Usually an existing medical condition is:
To help you decide whether you have an existing medical condition, ask yourself the following questions:
Tell your travel insurer if you answer “yes” to any of these questions.
Can I obtain cover for my existing medical conditions?
You may be able to obtain cover for your existing medical conditions. Ask your travel insurer how this affects your policy - an assessment fee, additional premium or special terms and conditions may be applied.
Some existing medical conditions may be automatically covered so check the policy wording. If in doubt ask your travel insurer before you buy the policy.
If cover is not provided for your existing medical condition you may still be covered for any new or unrelated conditions that arise during travel, provided other policy conditions are satisfied.
To do this you need to:
What am I covered for with my travel insurance policy?
Insurance companies have an obligation to express potentially devastating policy terms in language their customers can understand and appreciate. This is a requirement of the law which governs all insurance contracts.
Make sure you read and fully understand the policy details so that you are sure what is covered and what is not before taking out the insurance cover.
If you need help at any stage make sure you ask for clarification. If you have any questions regarding a general insurance topic or you have a dispute with your insurance provider and are unhappy with the decision made after review by the insurer's internal dispute resolution service, please call the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 78 08 08.
What if I need medical care while I am away?
Travel insurance policies usually provide cover for unexpected medical care required outside Australia, including doctors’ and hospital fees, repatriation to Australia if necessary, additional travel and cancellation costs. Many travel policies include an Assistance Line for overseas travellers to help with locating medical help and translation difficulties that may arise when the unexpected occurs.
Your travel itinerary and guide books will help you get a better understanding of the level of cover you may want to consider. It is important to make sure that your travel policy provides you with sufficient cover for medical costs. These can be extremely high in some countries, such as the USA and Japan. So check the limits that apply to cover for medical expenses in the region you are travelling to.
Travel insurance policies are for travel outside Australia so keep in mind that you will not be covered for medical expenses incurred within Australia.
Is there an excess if I make a claim?
An excess is a minimum amount you must pay toward your claim before your travel insurer covers the rest. You need to check the value of the excess applicable to your policy. With some policies you may be able to remove standard excesses for an additional premium.
Are there any limitations to the luggage or personal effects covered by the policy?
As a general rule, cover for your luggage and personal effects will be limited. As a result it is important that you check the per-item limit, as well as the total baggage cover provided.
Another area to understand is that cover for items such as jewellery, cameras, laptop computers, designer clothing, and other expensive items may also be limited.
In some instances, you may be able to increase the level of cover for your luggage and personal effects by paying an additional premium. Check your options to determine the best policy or cover for your needs.
What extra precautions should I consider if any in relation to my travel insurance?
Ensure that you understand the circumstances in which cover is NOT provided as conditions vary from policy to policy. One of the things that your policy will require you to do is take reasonable precautions to safeguard your luggage and personal effects. This means taking care of your luggage and personal effects at all times such as:
While you can never pre-empt every situation, the more conscious you are the more likely you will not be seen as an easy target.
What is not covered by a travel insurance policy?
You may be surprised to learn that the following items might not be covered by your policy:
Will all of my luggage and personal effects be covered?
Generally, policies do provide cover for the accidental loss or theft of your luggage and personal effects. The detail of what is and isn’t covered, however, varies from policy to policy. It is therefore important that you take the time to read your travel insurance policy carefully before you buy it. You should also refresh your memory before you travel to be clear about:
This information is available in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and policy wording of your travel insurance policy.
What do I need to do if something is stolen when I am travelling?
The first step is to be prepared before you travel.
Although this sounds like a lot of work when you are already busy planning a trip, the following steps can make it much easier to process your claim:
If you are unfortunate and a loss does occur, then you need to get evidence by:
On your return read the claim form carefully to ensure that you submit all required documentation to prevent delays in the assessment of your claim. This includes giving a clear account of the events that have caused your loss.
My credit card includes travel insurance. Do I need additional cover?
There are a number of ways you could qualify for Credit Card travel insurance, which will vary from policy to policy. You may qualify for this benefit if you:
It is important to understand what activates the insurance cover so you know if you are covered or need to take out cover.
It is also important to understand the nature of this cover and how it operates. Be aware that with this type of insurance it’s the bank or credit provider that is treated as the insured under the policy – and not you - because it’s the bank or credit provider that has arranged the cover with the travel insurer. That’s why it’s important that you obtain a copy of the wording from your bank or credit provider, read and understand the cover and ensure it meets your needs before you book your travel.
If you are relying on travel insurance that is part of your Credit Card benefits, it is crucial that before you book your travel you:
Only then can you be sure you have the right cover in place.