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Citizens' Advice Bureau



Fair dealing

How to complain
Insurance & Savings

Banks and insurance companies look after a lot of money that belongs to other people. In case of unfair dealings, there need to be systems to ensure they are brought to account. Two safeguards are the Banking Ombudsman and the Insurance & Savings Ombudsman. Both provide a method of dealing with disputes between people and their bank or insurance company.

Both Ombudsmen are independent. They are each responsible to their own commission rather than an industry body. Both Ombudsmen possess powers over the companies that participate in the relevant scheme – this includes most major banks and insurance companies.

How to complain

If you have a problem, you should first attempt to deal with it through the bank or insurance company’s own complaints procedure. If the results are unsatisfactory, then contact the relevant Ombudsman. Explain what has happened, what loss you have suffered, and what you would like done about it.

The Ombudsman will investigate your complaint and make a recommendation for fixing the problem. You have the option of accepting or rejecting this decision. If you accept:

  • it is binding on the organisation
  • you may not take any further action.

If you reject the decision, you may take other action.


The Banking Ombudsman scheme was set up in 1992 as a free, external and independent process to help people sort out their unresolved problems with banks.
Claims of up to $120,000 (or in some cases $150,000) can be considered when the bank’s action has caused a financial loss and the Banking Ombudsman can also award some costs and up to $4,000 for inconvenience.
The Banking Ombudsman can consider complaints about all sorts of banking services, including insurance and investment services, and can take complaints from companies and groups as well as individuals. She cannot consider complaints about banks’ interest rate policies or the level of their standard fees and charges.

The focus is on reaching an agreed resolution to a complaint, but if this is not possible, the Banking Ombudsman can award compensation against a bank.

Insurance & Savings

The Insurance & Savings Ombudsman (“ISO”) provides an independent and impartial disputes resolution service for customers of insurance and savings organisations. The service is free for consumers.
The ISO can consider complaints where the amount claimed is up to $100,000 (or for a disability benefit up to $750 per week) about fire and general, health, life insurance and savings services. Services must be provided in New Zealand by companies in the ISO Scheme.
It is an informal inquisitorial process. This means the ISO considers each side, may seek further information, and tries to negotiate a settlement. If this cannot be achieved, the ISO can resolve the dispute by providing a written decision. On request, the ISO can also review the decision. Any recommendation made by the ISO is binding on the insurance or savings organisation, but the consumer may still take the complaint to court.
The ISO has no jurisdiction to consider complaints about the company’s commercial decision-making e.g. renewal of a policy, underwriting practices, conditions imposed on insurance cover, premiums, charges, returns, earning rates and investment practices. The ISO cannot consider complaints made by an uninsured third party.

Find out more!

Office of the Banking Ombudsman
PO Box 10 573, Wellington
Freephone 0800 805 950
Fax 04 471 0548

Insurance & Savings Ombudsman
BDO House, Level 7, 99-105 Customhouse Quay
PO Box 10-845
Tel: (04) 499-7612
Freephone: 0800 888 202
Fax: (04) 499-7614



















Photo of  Liz Brown.

Liz Brown, Banking Ombudsman



Photo of Karen Stevens.

Karen Stevens, Insurance & Savings Ombudsman