NIBA and regulators urge bushfire victims to beware of unlicensed and unregulated ‘claims advisers’

The National Insurance Brokers Association of Australia (NIBA) along with AFCA and ASIC have urged those affected by the recent bushfire crisis to beware of unlicensed and unregulated ‘claims advisers’ seeking to take advantage of the community distress and loss.

They have warned consumers and small businesses about unscrupulous firms offering to assist them with their insurance claims, generally in exchange of a percentage of the sum recovered.

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth encouraged those needing help to take advantage of NIBA’s Bushfire Community Support Initiative, whereby qualified insurance brokers are offering to advise and assist victims of the recent bushfires with their insurance claims, free of charge.

“The intention of this initiative is to support members of the community who have suffered loss as a result of the recent fires, who do not currently have an insurance broker and who need assistance with their insurance claim.”

AFCA Chief Operating Officer Justin Untersteiner encouraged people to think twice before signing contracts with claims management companies. “AFCA has heard reports of claims management companies charging people to manage disputes with financial firms,” he said.

“AFCA warns against signing binding contracts with claims management companies unless people clearly understand the likely cost implications. In most cases it is not necessary or of any real value.”

Those who have suffered loss as a result of the recent fires are encouraged to call NIBA’s Need a Broker hotline – 1300 53 10 73 – so a member of the team can put them in touch with an insurance broker to help with their insurance claim.

For consumers and businesses adversely impacted by the bushfires, ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes said, “If you’re affected by the bushfires, ASIC suggests you deal directly with your insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial adviser. Your insurer may be able to provide emergency accommodation and financial support as part of your claim.”

Information on what to do after a natural disaster is available on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.

AFCA has also launched a support hotline to ensure priority service for those impacted by the devastating Australian bushfires. For more information, you can also call AFCA Bushfire Support Line (1800 337 444) orvisit AFCA’s online bushfire support information hub: afca.org.au/bushfiresupport

Insurance brokers operate under an ASIC Financial Services Licence and are subject to the ASIC financial services regulatory framework. They are members of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and are bound by AFCA determinations. Furthermore, they operate under the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice, which is independently monitored and enforced.