AFCA sets the record straight

Well known industry identity, Graham Judge of Safety Collision Consultants of NSW invited repairers, insurers and a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders to a recent meeting held in Western Sydney to hear from John Price, Lead Ombudsman, General Insurance for the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, AFCA.

Judge kicked off the event with an overview of his business, outlining some of the cases he has been involved with in recent times and how he has assisted in the resolution process. A self-proclaimed consumer advocate, Judge unashamedly pointed the finger squarely at the insurers citing several examples were we as an industry don’t always get it right. It set the scene for an interesting evening.

Price presented a short overview of how AFCA was established only 10 months ago, and during this time they have addressed 3,300 motor vehicle related complaints, 73 percent of which were either settled or a determination was found for the consumer.

Price went on to explain AFCA’s strategy, which is based on being fair and independent, transparent and accountable, honest and respectful and proactive and customer focused.

He then turned to the much-publicised case, 620915 relating to Choice of Repairer. Briefly, an insurer provided a second quote that was lower than that of the consumers chosen repairer and subsequently offered to pay the lesser amount stating the chosen repairer’s quote was unreasonable. In the determination AFCA outlined that the insurer failed to provide the correct information or supporting evidence, without which they found in favour of the consumer. It has been reported that this case is, amongst other things, “a landmark case”, “a game changer” and “an historic decision”.

When I asked Price if each AFCA case was determined on a standalone basis, he was unequivocal. “Every case is different and is treated as such. We aim to be consistent in our determinations, but they are all separate. One case does not create a precedent for any other.” When asked if he agreed with the above descriptions of case 620915 he was again crystal clear: “Absolutely not! The determination has been completely misrepresented – this is not ‘a landmark case, a game changer or an historic decision’.” Price went on to provide several examples of other cases to illustrate the point.

The meeting wrapped up with a Q&A from the floor, which, not surprisingly included some passionate discussion. Graham is to be commended for organising the function and I have no doubt he will continue to fight what he believes is the good fight.

Industry Partners