DO YOU HAVE A DISPUTE WITH A FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDER? I sometimes receive enquiries from clients who are not happy with a decision made by their financial service provider.

Recently, a client came to see me to get advice because her insurer refused to pay a claim for her car which had been stolen.  The car was found burnt out several kilometres from her home.  The insurer, who was a well-known major insurer, refused the claim because they suspected fraud.  On my assessment of the case there was no evidence of a fraud being committed by my client.

I assisted her to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.  The Financial Ombudsman is an independent body set up to consider complaints made by consumers, including small businesses, against a member financial service.  Membership of the Financial Ombudsman Service is open to any financial service provider in Australia.  Most of the major financial service providers are members.

The Ombudsman will consider the complaint and make a decision which is binding on the service provider.  Importantly, the decision is not binding on the consumer, so, if the consumer is dissatisfied, the normal legal options remain available.  For this reason, it is an excellent alternative to taking court action for the consumer or small business owner.

In the case of my client, the Ombudsman fairly quickly found in her favour and ordered that the insurer pay the claim.  My client was happy that she was able to avoid paying a hefty legal bill by pursuing it through the normal channels.