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Travel insurance ombudsman

In the middle of a dispute with your travel insurance provider? Here's how the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) could help.

What you need to know

  • Complaints should be sent to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (previously the Financial Ombudsman Service).
  • To make a complaint, you should first submit it to the insurer.
  • If your insurer still rejects your claim, you can lodge a dispute with the AFCA.

What is the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)?

Helping consumers with a range of complaints from credit cards and superannuation to insurance, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority can help with disputes over travel and ticket insurance.

Can I still make complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)?

In short, no, you can’t. Any complaint made prior to 1 November, 2018 that isn’t resolved has been passed to AFCA as well.

Finder survey: How many Australians have made a travel insurance claim?

Response
No61.36%
Yes,it was successful36.36%
Yes,it was unsuccessful2.27%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1112 Australians, December 2023

When would I use the services of AFCA?

If your travel insurance claim falls within the 10% that are rejected and you believe it’s unjustified, you can reach out to AFCA to try and settle your dispute. You have six years from the point you became aware of the issue to file your dispute, or two years if you’ve already filed a complaint with the insurance company.

Some common complaints AFCA receives about insurance include the following:

  • You’re unable to prove loss or damage to goods that were yours
  • Denial of your claim based on non-disclosure of pre-existing conditions
  • You’re accused of making a false or fraudulent claim

AFCA covers the following:

  • Travel insurance: Lost luggage, illness, theft when travelling that causes a disruption in your plans
  • Ticket insurance: If you’re unable to attend an event because of an unexpected circumstance (i.e. you fall sick or are in an accident on the way to a concert or sporting event)

What to do if your travel insurance claim is denied by your provider

Not satisfied with the outcome from your insurer? Here are 4 steps to help you escalate your complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

  • 1. Find out why. Contact the insurer to request as much information as possible about the reasons why your claim was refused.
  • 2. Lodge a complaint through the internal dispute resolution (IDR) process with the insurer. This is the first step of submitting your formal complaint.
  • 3. Review the insurer’s response. See how your insurer responds to the complaint and review the reasons it provides for its decision.
  • 4. Lodge a dispute with AFCA. If the matter hasn’t been resolved, you can lodge a dispute within two years of getting the IDR or within six years of becoming aware of the issue.

How does the Australian Financial Complaints Authority work to resolve disputes?

Once a complaint is received and lodged, AFCA works as a mediator between you and the insurance company to try and reach a settlement through negotiation or conciliation.

If you have already filed an internal dispute resolution (IDR) with the insurance company, AFCA estimates it will take up to 21 days to sort the dispute. It can take up to 45 days if you haven’t filed an IDR.

So long as the complaint fits within AFCA’s rules, your complaint will be moved into case management. Depending on the complexity of the case and how much additional information is requested, you should hopefully reach a settlement within four to eight weeks.

A final decision is made by an adjudicator, ombudsman or panel.

What can AFCA do to resolve my travel insurance dispute?

There are a few methods AFCA uses to try and settle claims:

  • Negotiation. AFCA will work as a middleman between you and the insurance company to try and negotiate a settlement that works for both parties.
  • Conciliation. AFCA will organise and facilitate an informal telephone conference with both parties to hear each other out. If no settlement is reached at the end of the discussion, AFCA will make a decision.
  • Assessments. AFCA will conduct an assessment of the complaint and the issues raised. It will then recommend a resolution to the complaint and give both parties 7-30 days (depending on the type of complaint) to settle.
  • Determination/Decision. The AFCA Decision Maker comes up with a decision about the complaint in writing and may recommend monetary or some other type of compensation. You are free to accept or reject this decision.

How can I contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority?

If you've unsuccessfully complained to your travel insurance provider, you can lodge a dispute online. There's also a live chat service available on the AFCA website for assistance from 9am-5pm AEST Monday to Friday.

Are there any disputes AFCA can’t help with?

AFCA can’t help if your complaint falls within the following:

  • If you’ve already filed a dispute with AFCA and have no new information or evidence to back up your claim
  • If you have taken your dispute to court, tribunal by legislation or a predecessor scheme
  • If your complaint falls outside of AFCA’s rules

You can also get free legal service and get advice on insurance law from the Insurance Law Service, which can assist you with information about travel insurance.

Name Product Free consultation Starting price Fixed fees Areas of practice
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$79 per month (basic membership billed monthly)

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Owen Hodge Lawyers
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Kean Legal Barristers & Solicitors
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No
$250 booking fee for 1 hour consultation
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Arnold Dallas McPherson
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Consult with the provider for a quotation.
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Aspire Law Group
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Consult with the provider for a quotation.
No
Criminal law, family law, property law, commercial litigation, debt recovery and bankruptcy, property law and conveyancing, wills and probate
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Australian Family Lawyers
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Consult with the provider for a quotation.
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Kramer & Kramer
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Consult with the provider for a quotation.
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Intellectual property, personal injury, entertainment law, class actions, will disputes, innovation law, commercial law
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Procopio Legal
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Consult with the provider for a quotation.
No
Real estate, family law and wills, debt recovery, business, corporate governance, contract law and negotiation
Procopio legal is an independent law firm established in 2016.
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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    AmandaJanuary 15, 2020

    I am cancelling a flight with Air Asia. I would like to be reimbursed for luggage and meal fees

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJanuary 16, 2020

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you are doing well. When cancelling a flight, reimbursement of flight inclusions will heavily depend on the type of ticket you bought whether it is a promotional fight, regular flight or redeemed rewards flight. To know how you can reimburse your luggage and meal fees for the flight you wish to cancel, read up on the terms and conditions of your ticket type and contact Airasia directly to clarify this concern.

      Feel free to reach back out as needed, we’re here to help!

      With care,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    lesJanuary 29, 2019

    my wife had an accident in the uk but it was not untill we arrived home that we found out how serious it was.we did go to a hospital to check it out but they only did an xray.as it turned out it was a torn shoulder.and this turned to be very bad and had to be done as soon as possible the insurance Co tells us that it is against the law for them to pay an ausy hospital bill sure save is the company name

      AvatarFinder
      JohnJanuary 30, 2019Finder

      Hi Les,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      If your feel your travel insurance claim was unfairly denied, here’s what you need to do:

      Find out why. Contact the insurer to request as much information as possible about the reasons why your claim was refused.
      Lodge a complaint through the internal dispute resolution (IDR) process with the insurer.
      Review the insurer’s response. See how your insurer responds to the complaint and review the reasons it provides for its decision.
      Lodge a dispute with AFCA. If the matter hasn’t been resolved, you can lodge a dispute within two years of getting the IDR or within six years of becoming aware of the issue.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

    Default Gravatar
    LizJanuary 16, 2019

    How can I get basic travel insurance (ie broken leg, food poisoning) when I’ve had cancer in the past 12 months??? I do not expect cover for cancer related issues

      AvatarFinder
      JohnJanuary 28, 2019Finder

      Hi Liz,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      Many insurers are reluctant to cover cancer patients, or anyone with a pre-existing medical condition, because they are considered more likely to make a claim. But it’s not impossible to arrange travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition – and there are usually two options. Some insurers will agree to insure your trip, but will exclude cover for any claim that is related to cancer. So, if you have to cancel your trip because the cancer makes you too ill to travel, or you have to go into hospital on holiday for cancer treatment, or as a result of an illness caused by the cancer, then you will have to pay the cost out of your own pocket. If you would prefer a more comprehensive cancer travel insurance policy, a number of specialist firms insure people with pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer. You should, however, be prepared to pay a higher premium because of the greater risk of a claim. You may reach out directly to the insurer of your choice to know if these options are available with them. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

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