The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has revealed its list of products and services most commonly complained about in the past year, with credit cards topping the list.
Personal transaction accounts, home loans, home building insurance, and motor vehicle insurance rounded out the top five.
As per the data, the AFCA saw more than 72,000 complaints in the past 12 months, a rise of 3 per cent on the previous financial year. These complaints included disputes with banks, super funds, investment firms, financial advisers, and insurers.
The top four banks accounted for nearly 20,000 of these complaints and the top four insurers accounted for about 9,400 complaints.
AFCA’s Chief Ombudsman David Locke attributes the rise in complaints about general insurance to a series of natural disasters across the country, such as an earthquake in Victoria last year as well as flooding and catastrophic storms in NSW and Queensland.
“We acknowledge that insurers face challenges as they try to manage claims and get people back on their feet,” Mr Locke said. “We know there are significant issues with the supply of things like building materials, parts and labour because of national and global events outside their control.
“Notwithstanding this, we are concerned at the rise in complaints being escalated to AFCA. We want to better understand the causes of complaints and we’re eager to work with insurers to help them resolve disputes more quickly and, ultimately, to prevent them.”
Home insurance was a new entry in the five most complained about products with over 6,000 complaints. Complaints related to personal transaction accounts were also up by nearly 30 percent.
Still, Mr Locke noted it was “really positive” that financial difficulty-related complaints actually declined.
“We continued to see lower levels of hardship complaints in 2021-22, reflecting the work that the banking sector has done to support consumers in recent years,” he observed.
“That’s really positive. However, we’ll be working with industry and consumer groups as we monitor the impact of cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates on financial services consumers in the coming year.”
The AFCA data also shows that NSW topped the list with more than 23,000 complaints in the past year, followed by Victoria and Queensland. The Northern Territory recorded the least complaints (476).
Overall, in 2021-22, more than $200 million in compensation was provided to successful complainants, with an average of 72 days to resolve a complaint.