Complaints about banks, lenders and insurers

If you have borrowed money from a bank or other lender, or taken out an insurance policy, you could end up in a dispute with the credit provider or insurer. It is important to know how to go about resolving your dispute and where you may be able to get help.

Many complaints about financial services and products can be fixed quickly if you contact the service provider directly. Most have an internal dispute resolution process that explains how you can make a complaint. The process will also set out a time frame for responding to your complaint.

If contacting the bank, credit provider or insurer directly does not resolve the issue, there are other places you can go to get help.

Find out:

  • what happens once you ask for an internal review
  • where else you can go if you need help with a complaint, and
  • what you can do to avoid problems with financial products and services.

How long does the bank or insurer have to respond to my complaint?

Their complaints or internal dispute resolution policy will set out how long the bank, lender or insurer has to respond to your issue.

Generally, once they have received your complaint or request for an internal review, they must respond within 45 days. If the issue relates to a claim for financial hardship, the response must be made within 21 days.

What if the complaint can’t be resolved internally? 

If you are unhappy with the response you receive from the internal review (or you do not receive a response within the set time frame), you may wish to lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), the external dispute resolution service for financial complaints.

AFCA provides free dispute resolution for consumers (and some small businesses) who are unable to directly resolve a dispute with their financial services provider. This is as an alternative to court proceedings. Banks and other credit providers, financial planning firms, general insurers, insurance broking firms, and life insurers are some of the organisations that are required by legislation to be AFCA members 

Decisions made by AFCA can be binding on participating financial services providers, but only if you choose to accept the determination. Otherwise, you are able to pursue other options, which could include court proceedings.

Hints to avoid disputes

A common source of complaints about banking and financial products, including insurance policies, is that many consumers do not know exactly what they are signing up for. It is important to take time to 'read the fine print' and ask for more information if you are not sure about something. There can be 'cooling-off periods' for things such as insurance policies, but not everything comes with this option.

You should:

  • know the fees, interest rates and charges that apply for services when you open a bank account, sign up for a credit card, or take out a loan
  • have a full understanding of the terms and conditions of your accounts and loans so you know where you stand
  • read any insurance policy to see what things the policy covers, what exclusions or restrictions apply, and how claims are processed to check that it meets your needs.


More information

Reviewed: 1 November 2018


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.