Car finance and insurance

The next steps to take if you are unable to resolve an issue relating to car finance and insurance.

Who do I go to?

The Disputes Tribunal(external link) or the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal(external link) if you have a faulty vehicle and you can’t resolve the issue directly.

Dispute resolution schemes

Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO)(external link) for complaints about insurance, loans or credit, superannuation, financial advisors, investments or other financial services provided by their IFSO participants.

Financial Services Complaints Limited (FSCL)(external link), not-for-profit external dispute resolution scheme, for complaints any aspect of financial services provided to you by an FSCL member.

Banking Ombudsman (BO)(external link) for disputes between customers and their bank.

Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR)(external link), independent approved dispute resolution scheme, for disputes about a financial services provider who is an FDR scheme participant.

What kind of problems do they handle?

Dispute resolution schemes

For the four dispute resolution schemes, your complaint must generally relate to:

  • a breach of contract
  • not following industry standards, or any relevant code of practice or laws
  • any conduct that is not fair or reasonable in the circumstances
  • misleading information or inappropriate advice such as suitability of the product for your needs
  • not disclosing fees and/or terms of the contract
  • debt recovery and repossession action
  • decline of an insurance claim or cancelling of a policy (usually due to non-disclosure)
  • policy and contract interpretation
  • transaction disputes.

Complaints the schemes can’t hear include:

  • complaints about anything related to the FSP’s commercial judgement, such as whether to give you a loan, interest rates, standard fees and charges
  • losses caused by third parties or uninsured losses
  • premiums, charges, excesses, returns, or underwriting decisions
  • complaints before the courts, the Disputes Tribunal, or that have been settled in mediation.

Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal

Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal (MVDT) deals with claims under the Consumer Guarantees Act, or if you have been misled under the Fair Trading Act. 

Claims must be against a registered motor vehicle dealer or an unregistered dealer who has a business selling motor vehicles. They can’t hear claims against private sellers. The MVDT can’t hear claims about certain vehicles such as mopeds, any kind of farm machinery, or trailers.

The Disputes Tribunal

The Disputes Tribunal deals with claims up to $15,000 (or $20,000 if both parties agree in writing):

  • against a motor vehicle trader for compensation and/or a refund under the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act
  • against the loan company to vary or cancel the loan contract under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act.

What do I need to do?

  1. Contact your financial service provider (FSP) or insurer to try to if resolve the complaint.
  2. If you can't resolve the complaint, contact your FSP or insurer's dispute resolution scheme and follow their complaints procedure.
  3. If you have a faulty vehicle and can't resolve the issue directly, you may want to bring a claim to the Disputes Tribunal or MVDT. Find out more about Going to the Disputes Tribunal.

What else do I need to consider?

All the dispute resolution schemes are free for you.

A financial services provider must belong to one of the four dispute resolution schemes so you will need to check which one they belong to. This should be on their bills or website or you can use the FSP register(external link).

Some of the schemes have set time limits to complain. Check the details for your FSP's scheme for more information. Your dispute cannot be about an amount exceeding $200,000 or $1,500 per week.

Each of the schemes offer different remedies. Check your FSP's scheme's website for more details.

The Disputes Tribunal and MVDT

The Disputes Tribunal charges a filing fee to pay, depending on the amount claimed. Current fees can be found on their website(external link).

The filing fee for a claim in the MVDT is currently $50 including GST.

Both the MVDT and the Disputes Tribunal hearing processes are informal. Lawyers cannot participate in the process, but the trader must. You are responsible for paying the costs and expenses of any witnesses you call to give evidence.

The MVDT or Disputes Tribunal can order that:

  • your contract is changed to compensate you for your loss
  • the trader fully refunds you for the vehicle
  • you’re compensated for the loss you’ve suffered e.g. cost of repairs or reduction in value of the vehicle
  • the motor vehicle trader pays off any loans you took to buy the motor vehicle.

For a dispute with a private seller, the Disputes Tribunal can order the seller to:

  • cancel the sale and refund your money
  • pay compensation for the loss in value of the car.

It takes longer to get a hearing before the MVDT than the Disputes Tribunal. If you live outside a main centre, it can take many months to get a hearing before the MVDT.  

Where can I get more information?

Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman

Provides information about the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman and how to make a complaint.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 888 202

Financial Services Complaints Limited

Provides information about the Financial Services Complaints Limited scheme and how to make a complaint.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 347 257

Banking Ombudsman

Provides information about the role of the Banking Ombudsman and how to make a complaint.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 805 950

Financial Dispute Resolution

Provides information about the Financial Dispute Resolution scheme and how to make a complaint.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0508 337 337

Motor Vehicle Dealers Tribunal

Provides information about the work of the Tribunal and how make a complaint.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 367 6838

Disputes Tribunal

Provides information about how to make a claim, online applications and current fees.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 268 787

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 803 909

The Commerce Commission

Provides information how to make a complaint if you feel a business is not complying with the Fair Trading Act.

Visit the website(external link)
Phone: 0800 943 600