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NZ ombudsman scheme complaints limit increased 

New Zealand’s Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) Scheme can investigate more complaints after its upper limit was lifted to $NZ350,000 ($322,479), an increase from $NZ200,000 ($184,270). 

The expansion of the free service is aimed at keeping people out of courts and cutting the cost of accessing a complaints mechanism. 

A change to the terms of reference from September widens the scope of consumers to lodge complaints about insurance claims, credit and other financial services and products. 

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens says the changes will mean more consumers can have their complaints investigated by the scheme. 

“Previously, anyone with a claim over the limit of $200,000 would have had to pay for legal representation to take their case to court,” Ms Stevens said. 

“Court proceedings are not cheap and they’re certainly not free – like the IFSO Scheme process”. 

She said the changes bring the organisation into line with other dispute resolution schemes. 

“Weather events like we’ve seen this year, such as the Auckland flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle, often result in many claims, both small and very large. The change increasing our monetary limits will allow us to investigate more complaints from those affected at the higher end and will ensure more consumers get increased access to justice.” 

The overhaul clarified IFSO Scheme’s decision-making process and increased the figure that can be awarded for special inconvenience to $5000. 

The changes come after consultation during two rounds of feedback with participants and stakeholders late last year and early this year.