Westpac NZ is advising customers receiving repayment deferrals and reductions that there are a range of support options as the initial six-month assistance period comes to an end.
Deferrals and repayment reductions have been available to home loan and personal loan customers who have been financially affected by COVID-19. The majority of customer applications were made in April and the assistance is due to expire soon.
Westpac NZ General Manager of Consumer Banking and Wealth, Gina Dellabarca, says customers will be able to access further help that is appropriate to their individual needs and financial situation.
“We know our repayment assistance has helped our customers navigate a period of financial uncertainty.
“One in five home loan customers who sought this assistance have now resumed payments and we expect this number to grow. Many others will roll off support after six months and restart their repayments then.
“However, for those customers on deferrals who require continued support, we will have a range of options available including extending the term of their loan and switching to interest-only payments.
“The continued deferral of principal and interest payments will also be available in some cases, but as a responsible lender we should only do this where it is in the customer’s best financial interests, and there is a pathway to resuming repayments.
“Because interest continues to be added to a loan during a deferral, customers should look to explore all other options first to avoid increasing their debt levels over the longer term.”
Ms Dellabarca says these will be challenging times for some customers.
“We want to assure them that we are here to help. We have a dedicated financial solutions team available to provide care and support to customers facing financial hardship.”
She says customers still requiring support do not need to take action now. And customers who are able to end their assistance after the six-month deferral or reduction period don’t need to do anything – they will just roll back on to regular repayments at the end of the six months.
“We will be writing to everyone on repayment assistance so they understand their options, and more detailed information can be found on our website.”