Frequently Asked Questions

Although many of the services, products and procedures offered by financial service providers may be similar, there are many that will differ significantly due to their specialized nature. Some of these differences are reflected in the following FAQs.

Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ's

  • General
    1. A Complainant is not obliged to use the NFO to pursue a Complaint against a Participant and instead may institute legal proceedings or use any other available dispute resolution forum.
    2. A Complainant who submits a Complaint to the NFO may withdraw the Complaint at any time.
    3. A party may submit a Complaint orally or in writing to the NFO either by using the NFO’s online complaint form, submitting the Complaint by email, facsimile or post or contacting the NFO by telephone or other electronic means or in person. By submitting a Complaint, the Complainant is deemed to have agreed to the Rules.
    4. A Complaint can be submitted to the NFO in any of theofficial languages of South Africa.
    5. The receipt of a Complaint by the NFO suspends any applicable time-barring provisions, whether in terms of an agreement or any law, or the running of prescription in terms of the Prescription Act, 1969, for the period from the receipt of the Complaint until the Complaint has either been withdrawn by the Complainant or finalised by the NFO. Thereafter prescription and time-barring will no longer be suspended. 

Life/Long-Term Insurance

  • Will my complaints be treated as confidential?

    All correspondence we receive is treated confidentially and shared only between the complainant, the insurer and our office. If we need an expert opinion we will share information with the expert.

  • Who carries the cost of medical reports or consultations which the insurer needs to asses my claim?

    You have to pay for any medicals to prove your claim. If the insurer wants to rely on an exclusion clause in the policy, the cost for any additional medical reports has to be paid by the insurer.

  • What can I do if I am still not satisfied with the decision the Ombudsman office has made?

    The Office will always first make a provisional determination after its investigation. If you are not satisfied with it you can respond with your concerns and your complaint will then be re-assessed. If you are still not satisfied after a final determination you can apply for leave to appeal in terms of the Rules.

  • Can your office give me financial advice?

    No, we do not give financial advice. We resolve disputes.

  • Can I assist or act on behalf of a friend or family member with their complaint?

    Yes, but you will need to provide us with written permission from the person who is the complainant in the form of a signed mandate. A policyholder, beneficiary, life insured, premium payer or successor in title can be a complainant. If you are the executor of an estate we need the letter of executorship.

  • How often will I get feedback regarding the status of my complaints?

    We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint. Thereafter we will advise you of the status of your complaint when we have something new to report.

  • Can I submit more than one complaint?

    Yes. Even if you have had a previous complaint resolved you can complain about a different matter.

  • Should or can I stop paying premiums while my complaint is being investigated?

    No, you should carry on paying premiums unless the insurer has agreed that you can stop.

  • Must all correspondence about my complaint be sent to your office once my complaint has been received by your office?

    Yes, and if you correspond with the insurer directly, we need to be copied with such correspondence.

  • Must I still deal with the insurer once my complaint has been lodged with your office?

    No, once a matter has been handed to our office, you should only correspond with us, unless we tell you otherwise. However, if, after your complaint has been lodged with our office, we transfer it to the insurer to try and resolve, it is ok to deal directly with the insurer.

  • Can I go to the press to complain while my complaint is under investigation with the Ombudsman?

    No, we have a clause in our Rules that binds the parties to the complaint to confidentiality.

  • Which complaints cannot be dealt with by your office?

    Complaints about:

    • That are not against life insurers
    • Financial advice or service by intermediaries
    • Pension and provident funds, retirement annuities and preservation funds;
    • Short-term insurance;
    • Banks;
    • Labour disputes;
    • Medical Aid;
    • Debt review, credit issues, ITC/blacklisting complaints.
  • What types of policies can I complain about?

    We deal with life insurance / long-term insurance policies which provide:

    • Annuities (but not retirement annuities);
    • Life Insurance;
    • Disability Insurance;
    • Health Insurance;
    • Funeral Insurance;
    • Credit Life complaints;
    • Hospital Plan Insurance;
    • Dread disease Insurance.
  • What may one complain about?

    You can complain about the following:

    • Where your claim has been declined;
    • If you are dissatisfied with the policy performance and maturity values;
    • Poor service;
    • Lapsing of your policy;
    • If you are dissatisfied with your surrender or paid-up values;
    • Partial payment of claims;
    • Credit Retrenchment insurance
  • How long do you give the insurer to respond to my complaint?

    We give insurers a 6 week response period for any first time complaints directed to them.

  • How long will my complaint take?

    We acknowledge receipt of your complaint within one week. The investigation of your complaint will depend on its nature. Some complaints are resolved within a short period. Others can take some time to resolve. We will keep you advised of progress.

  • Do you limit the insured amount claimed for?

    No, we do not have a limit on the amount of the claim.

  • If the service is free, how is the office funded?

    We charge insurers a case fee for every case we handle. In addition insurers pay an annual levy.

  • Does it cost anything to lodge a complaint?

    No, the service is free to complainants.

  • Can I lodge my complaint in my own language?

    You may correspond with us in any of the official languages.

  • What is the process of lodging a complaint with your office?

    Complaints should preferably be lodged in writing to our office either via fax, post, email or through our online complaint submission form on our website Submit A Complaint. We also accept telephonic or walk-in complaints. The information we need from you is contained in the topic “How to Submit a Complaint”.

  • Must my complaint be in writing?

    You can complain in writing but we also provide a telephonic or walk-in service.

  • What is the difference between ‘Mini Cases’, ‘Transfers’, ‘Reviews’ and ‘Full Cases?

    Mini cases:

    These are simple complaints that are within the jurisdiction of the office but which insurers can handle without the office’s involvement. The complainant is always advised that if the matter is not resolved to his/her satisfaction, he/she can contact our office again.


    These are complaints not previously seen by insurers which our office refers to them to try and resolve directly with the complainant.


    If a transfer complaint is not resolved and if the complainant, when contacted by the office, requests us to do so, it is taken up by the office as a ‘Review’

    Full Cases:

    These are complaints that have already been seen by insurers and they are handled by the office from inception to finalisation

  • What if I lodge a complaint with your office without going to the insurer first?

    Complaints not previously seen by insurers are referred to them to try and resolve directly with the complainant. We refer to these complaints as ‘Transfers’. If not resolved and if the complainant, when contacted by the office, requests us to do so, they are taken up by the office as ‘Reviews’ and handled in the same manner as ‘Full Cases’.

  • When can I submit a complaint to your office?

    You may submit a complaint to our office if you have raised the complaint with the insurer but the insurer has not been able to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction.

Non-Life/Short-Term Insurance

  • Should I complain to the insurer first?

    It is not compulsory for you to complain first to your insurance company before submitting a complaint to the NFO. This means that NFO will consider your complaint even if you have not yet complained to your insurer. However, we do suggest that, before submitting a complaint to NFO you first try to resolve your issue with your insurer.

  • Can the NFO make an insurer apply a decision in one case to all other consumers in the same position?

    No, the NFO can only deal with issues on a complaint by complaint basis. Each complaint must be individually assessed on its own merits. However, if an issue arises that might have a large impact on other consumers or on the insurance industry, the NFO will discuss this with the Regulator. The Regulator will then decide on the best way to deal with the issue.

  • Can I appeal against the NFO’s decision?

    Yes, you can appeal against a decision by an Ombud but only if the Ombud has made a formal ruling against you and granted you leave to appeal against that ruling.

Banking Services

  • How can the NFO help me?

    We have a pretty broad mandate, which means we can look into all sorts of complaints about banking services and administration. If you feel that your bank has made a wrong decision or a mistake, or hasn’t applied their own rules consistently, then tell us. If you’ve lost money or experienced hassle as a result, we may be able to find you a remedy.

  • What types of complaints can you assist me with?

    We have a pretty broad mandate, which means we can look into all sorts of complaints about banking services and administration. If you feel that your bank has made a wrong decision or a mistake, or hasn’t applied their own rules consistently, then tell us. If you’ve lost money or experienced hassle as a result, we may be able to find you a remedy.

  • Are there any complaints you can’t deal with?

    Just like the banks, we also have to follow certain rules and these set limits on the kind of situations we can get involved in. Our role is to look at complaints of unfair treatment by banks, or mistakes. We can’t deal with complaints about, for example, interest rates or situations where bank accounts have been used for criminal activities.

Credit Providers & Credit Bureaus

  • How do I get a copy of my Credit Bureau report?

    You need to phone the relevant credit bureau and ask for a copy of your bureau report. As per the National Credit Act, you are entitled to one free credit report every twelve months. If you want another report within the same year, you need to pay a fee. 

  • If I do not agree with the information on my credit report, what do I need to do?

    If there is any information you are disputing on your credit profile or want to be updated / removed, you need to phone the relevant credit bureaux, complete your application form and send the bureau the required signed forms and your evidence as soon as possible. The bureau will supply you with a reference number. Allow them 20 working days to resolve your complaint.

    If you are not happy with the outcome of their investigation then call us on 0861 66 28 37 for assistance – we will be glad to assist you where possible, free of charge.  

  • I have been told I have been blacklisted. What does this mean?

    Blacklist is a misleading term, which came about when credit bureaux only kept negative information. In the 1980s, following international trends, credit providers now also share positive information about their customers, as this facilitates access to credit. The perception that credit bureaux only keep negative data is therefore not true. For example, about 60% of the information held on credit bureaux is positive information. One cannot be blacklisted but can be part of the 40% who have a negative notation. The data is not divided into good and bad it is all on one comprehensive database.

  • What type of complaints can you help me with?

    Some of the complaints we can help you with are Prescription of debt; Overcharging of interest or fees; Reckless lending; Debt collection issues; Fraud; Products that are not explained to you by the credit provider such as the interest or insurance added to accounts; Emolument attachment orders/Garnishee orders; Paid up letters; Unfairly or incorrectly listed at the credit bureau (judgments, defaults, payment profiles, etc.

  • Have you lodged your complaint with the credit provider or credit bureau?

    Provide us with your reference number, if available. If you have not, your complaint to us is premature. We will assist in forwarding your complaint to the credit provider or the credit bureau.  

  • Must my complaint be in writing?

    You can complain either orally or in writing. You can use the NFO online complaint form or contacting the NFO by telephone or you can submit your complaint in person, by email or other electronic means.

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