It has been nearly a year since severe rain caused extreme flooding in the East Coast region, and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has reported that it has since received a total of over 2,000 complaints related to the incident.
According to AFCA, the most significant issue among the complaints it received was the delays in claim handling. The disputes authority also stated that the 2022 flooding was its second largest “significant event” since AFCA’s inception in November 2018, just behind the COVID-19 pandemic.
AFCA noted that the number of escalated complaints it received is more than four times the number it received related to the next most significant weather event, the South-East Coast storms of February 2020, which led to 493 complaints.
“We are concerned by the volume of complaints that have been reaching us about delays by insurers,” said AFCA chief ombudsman and chief executive David Locke. “We understand that the scale of this event has put pressure on insurers but these sorts of complaints can often be avoided through good, regular communication with customers.”
Locke added that AFCA wants to see insurers resolving more complaints within their own dispute resolution process, over relying on AFCA, as relying on the independent organisation prolongs the time customers spend in “limbo.”
Flooding beset South-East Queensland (SEQ) and northern NSW after storms hit the areas on February 28, 2022. The flooding affected more than 20,000 homes in SEQ, and another 3,000 homes in NSW. It has since been deemed Australia’s costliest flood, and even topped 2022’s list of most expensive insurance losses outside of the US.
The AFCA chief executive, in a statement, also raised concerns about general insurance complaints apart from those related to flooding. The organisation has seen a 65% increase in general insurance complaints in the 2022-23 fiscal year, so far. As of February 23, AFCA had registered 17,163 general insurance complaints, compared with 10,417 complaints registered during the same period in 2021-22.