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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Insurance companies - complaints and dispute resolution procedures

Insurance companies that are members of the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) have agreed to a standard procedure for handling complaints. Most insurance companies are members of ICNZ including AA, AMI, AMP, State, Tower, Vero, and their subsidiary companies. A full list of member companies can be found here.

The ICNZ's advice to consumers on resolving disputes can be found here. The information below is extracted from the on-line brochure Fair Insurance Code which can be downloaded from here. Please keep in mind that both parties have rights and obligations, and what is described below represents only part of the overall picture. To understand what obligations are placed on consumers/claimants please read the whole brochure.

Complaint Procedures

If you make a complaint to us, we will:
    • let you know that we have received your complaint within 3 working days
    • make sure your complaint is fully investigated as soon as possible by someone not involved in the original decision
    • give you the name and contact details of the person handling your complaint
    • send you written advice about the progress or outcome of the complaint within 10 working days of receiving your complaint
    • tell you within 2 months if we are unable to resolve your complaint
    • when necessary, tell you about any other people who can help such as our dispute resolution provider approved under the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008.
Disputes Resolution Scheme (DRS)

All insurance companies are required to have a DRS which is an independent service, free to you, that can help you settle a range of insurance disputes against insurance companies.
The DRS can help with complaints about policies and claims for personal and small business insurances to a stated maximum sum (unless the insurance company agrees to a higher amount). The DRS will help you settle your complaint by agreement, or the DRS will make the decision. The decision may be in your favour, or in the insurance company’s favour. The DRS's decision is binding on the insurance company, but not on you. If you are unhappy with the DRS decision, you can take your complaint to the Disputes Tribunal or to court.
The DRS will refer to the Fair Insurance Code to help them make their decision.
Your insurer will advise you which DRS they belong to.

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