Ombudsmen from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) are in Townsville today to offer their service to small businesses affected by the recent Townsville floods.
AFCA’s inaugural Lead Ombudsman – Small Business, Geoff Browne GAICD and Ombudsmen Michael Brett Young met with small business owners, the Townsville Chamber of Commerce and state government officials to understand the unique needs following this catastrophic event.
Mr Browne said AFCA expects insurers are responding quickly and efficiently to the needs of small business.
“Insurers will be processing many claims from small businesses who have been affected by the floods,” Mr Browne said.
“In most cases, claims will be processed fairly and efficiently. If a small business has any disputes with their insurance company that they are unable to resolve, they can contact AFCA.
“AFCA is a free one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses with complaints about financial firms, including banks, credit, insurance organisations, investments, financial advice and superannuation.”
While in Townsville, Mr Browne also let small businesses know the steps they should take if they were having financial difficulties because of the flood.
“After natural disasters like this, small businesses can sometimes find themselves facing financial difficulties,” Mr Brown said.
“The first step is to contact your bank or credit provider and explain that you are experiencing financial difficulty due to the floods.
“Most financial firms have dedicated financial hardship teams. When you call them, ask to speak to someone in this team who you can work with to reach an agreement about your accounts while you are awaiting the outcome of any insurance claims.”
If a financial firm will not agree to a reasonable request for assistance, then small businesses can contact AFCA who will work with both parties to reach an agreement.
“AFCA is here to help. If you encounter difficulties with a financial hardship application, you can contact us 1800 931 678 or at afca.org.au,” Mr Browne said.
- The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a not-for-profit that is approved by the Federal Government to administer a free, fair and independent dispute resolution scheme.
- AFCA consider complaints about financial products and services.
- AFCA’s service is offered as an alternative to tribunals and courts to resolve complaints consumers and small businesses have with their financial firms.
- AFCA was established following the 2016 Ramsay Review into how Australia’s external dispute resolution framework could be improved to deliver effective outcomes for all Australian consumers and small business.
- On 1 November 2018, AFCA replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal as the one-stop-shop for financial dispute resolution.
- Consumers and small businesses can lodge a complaint with AFCA online at afca.org.au