Insurer to overhaul dispute process

QBE has pledged to change its complaints and dispute resolution process after ASIC raised concerns that the insurer was intimidating its customers.

The concerns stem from QBE’s use of a third-party law firm for outsourced complaint and dispute resolution.

ASIC says it was concerned that some QBE customers are receiving letters bearing the letterhead of a law firm rather than QBE.

The regulatory watchdog says this has the potential to create a barrier for customers wanting to resolve their disputes, by making them feel intimidated or as though they needed to seek costly legal representation.

ASIC is also concerned that the practice is not consistent with the Australian Financial Services Licence obligations for dispute resolution.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell says consumers must have easy access to dispute resolution.

“While licensees can outsource their dispute resolution functions, it must be done in a way that is consistent with their licence requirements, ensures accessibility to customers and maintains a customer-focused approach,” he says.

In response, QBE has agreed to ensure that by the end of March all complaints and disputes-related communication with customers will be QBE-branded.