Rob Guest, AFCA’s executive general manager for customer service and resolution, said the authority is committed to ensuring appropriate information is in place for consumers who need to access its services during the ongoing bushfire crisis, which has affected several states in Australia since November.
“The devastating nature of these fires is horrifying, and our thoughts are with the consumers and small businesses impacted. It’s important that we ensure these communities have timely support and relevant information about financial recovery, and can get financial issues addressed quickly,” Mr Guest said.
“We know that right now the focus is on ensuring the safety of yourself, your family and your property. If you’ve been impacted, the first step is to contact your insurer or broker to start the claims process.
“It’s also a good idea to document damage when it’s safe to do so, by taking photos or making notes. If there’s a problem with your claim, it’s important to have evidence you can use to back it up.”
Mr Guest said AFCA has special processes that identify and expedite complaints from people in the impacted communities, and can assist them to resolve any complaints with their financial firm as quickly as possible.
“Many thousands of people have been affected – homes destroyed, people who can’t access their cash or who have lost their credit cards, or who can’t make loan repayments because they have no job to go to anymore. Small businesses will have been lost or be currently inoperable,” said Mr Guest.
Beyond problems relating to insurance and claims, AFCA said it is expecting that many people will be facing financial hardship, and noted that if someone is experiencing financial hardship due to the fires, they can contact their bank or financial provider to ask for assistance.
“If you find yourself having trouble with your insurer or financial provider about your claim or request for hardship assistance, you can talk to AFCA to get help,” Mr Guest said.
The new hub comes as several lenders announce new or extended relief packages to help provide financial relief to affected customers, while the majors have also announced $1-million donation packages to frontline services and support networks.