The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia has activated its significant event response plan following the NSW bushfires that have occurred over the last 48 hours.
The significant event response plan is activated for events such as natural disasters that can potentially result in significant numbers of related disputes coming to FOS. It provides for early communication with relevant stakeholders and a more streamlined, expedited process for the resolution of related disputes.
While it is important for consumers to check their policies do provide cover for the event, most policies will cover bushfires. If issues arise either with the extent of cover, extent of damage or delays, FOS encourages consumers to try to resolve the issues directly with the insurance company, however, if the complaint remains, FOS is able to consider disputes, provided the insurance provider is a member of FOS, which most insurers are.
FOS is liaising closely with the Insurance Council of Australia to monitor the situation. Consumers may also contact the Insurance Council of Australia’s disaster hotline - 1800 734 621 - which has been activated to help affected residents who are not sure which insurer they are with, or who have general inquiries about the claims process. The ICA has advised insurers are prioritising claims from the bushfires.