COVID boosts complaints to financial ombudsman

The COVID pandemic caused a 15 per cent rise in complaints to the financial ombudsman in the year to March 30.

April 2021 – In the year since lockdowns began in Australia,  the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) recorded a sharp rise in consumer complaints about scams.

It received more than 11,000 complaints related to COVID-19 in the year leading up to the anniversary of the pandemic’s declaration.  

More than 3500 related to travel, presumably travel insurance when travel plans had to be cancelled.

Complaints about car and home insurance dropped because people stayed at home.

AFCA says it has resolved 90 per cent of the COVID-related complaints it received. The financial organisations it regulates fine-tuned their responses to consumers’ issues as the pandemic progressed.

It’s no surprise that scammers acted to take advantage of COVID, and AFCA advises consumers to discuss the risks with family and friends who may be vulnerable.

AFCA information about scams is here www.afca.org.au/scams. There is also advice at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch site www.scamwatch.gov.au

Life insurance comparison websites: what they don’t offer

Comparison websites provide the convenience of being able to compare different products online, and many of us would assume what we get is the same as buying a bespoke service. When it comes to life insurance we’d be wrong.

Research by Rice Warner has found the commissions that insurers pay to life insurance websites is the same as that paid to qualified financial advisers who spend time assessing the consumer’s needs to come up with a tailored offer of cover.

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