What Does The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Do?

Co-author: Christine Thelander

What is the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) and what does it do? Find out how it handles dispute resolutions for consumers.

When something goes wrong in the area of finance, general insurance, investments, life insurance or superannuation and you can’t get anywhere with the company concerned, who do you turn to? The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) offers fair, independent and accessible dispute resolution for consumers who are unable to resolve complaints with member financial services providers.

The Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman New Zealand: How does it work?

Useful information for every KiwiSaver member – FMAThe Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman is a non-for-profit, non-government organisation that provides an external disputes resolution service for consumers with complaints about their financial services and insurance providers. It offers a free and independent complaints service to customers of its participants. Their service is free of charge for applicants. The IFSO Scheme is funded through Participant fees and levies.

Participants of the IFSO include insurance and financial service providers.

The IFSO resolves disputes between consumers and financial service providers independently and fairly. As an approved dispute resolution scheme, they run a service that is accessible, independent, fair, accountable, efficient and effective.

When investigating complaints, case managers follow a balanced and fair dispute resolution process. This is about bringing two parties together, considering all of the facts, interpreting contracts and applying the law.

What disputes does the IFSO cover?

The IFSO handles a wide range of financial disputes, including:

  • Insurance (including house, vehicle, contents, health, life and travel insurance)
  • Superannuation, investments and securities
  • Loans and credit
  • Financial advice and broking services
  • Foreign exchange and money transfer services

Financial service providers are required to belong to a dispute resolution scheme. The IFSO Scheme has over 4000 Participants, and can only formally investigate a complaint if it involves a Participant of the Scheme.

What do consumers complain about?

According to the 2018 IFSO Annual Report, they recieved 320 complaints and 3,357 complaint enquiries during the 2017-2018 financial year.

The largest type of product complained about was fire and general insurance products (64% of complaints) followed by health, life and disability insurance (31% of complaints). Financial advisors,How banks provide face-to-face support to business customers credit contracts and superannuation received comparatively fewer complaints.

Check out the IFSO Annual Report for the full breakdown.

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