Fidrec raises limit for non-insurance claims

The limit for non-insurance-related adjudicated claims will be lifted from $50,000 to $100,000 from Jan 3 - a move long demanded by market watchers.

The Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (Fidrec) said the change will give more consumers access to an affordable dispute-resolution process.

This also brings it in line with insurance-related adjudication claims, where the limit has already been set at $100,000.

Before the revision, people with claims over $50,000 would often have had to seek legal action, which is a more expensive option.

There is no limit for disputes resolved by mediation. This would involve Fidrec mediating a solution between the parties, even where the claim amounts are above the current adjudication limits.

Filing a complaint at Fidrec is free, but if mediation efforts fail, you will be charged $50 per claim if your case goes to adjudication.

Non-insurance-related claims are disputes between consumers and banks, finance companies, capital market intermediaries, financial advisers or insurance intermediaries. Third-party claims can also be lodged.

BETTER RESOLUTION

The increase in jurisdiction limit will allow Fidrec to help more consumers and the financial industry reach an amicable and mutually acceptable resolution in the event of disputes.

MR GOH JOON SENG, Fidrec's chairman, on the new jurisdiction limit.

It is not clear why the dispute limits for banks and insurers were different in the first place.

The increasing number of tie-ups between banks and insurers and the expanded market share of life insurance sales via banking channels mean that it makes sense for banks to have the same limit as insurers.

Fidrec initiated a review of its jurisdiction last year but the process did not address another area of inconsistency - the dispute cap for non-injury motor accidents. This is just $3,000 and deemed too low by industry practitioners and the consumer watchdog because of the increasing repair costs for cars.

The Consumers Association of Singapore had asked Fidrec to consider reviewing the claim limits for insurance, banking and motor accident disputes for consistency and fairness. There are also calls for Fidrec to step up its disclosure on disputes to increase consumer education.

Fidrec told The Straits Times yesterday: "The current claim threshold value of $3,000 may be further reviewed, as appropriate."

People who lodged non-insurance claims before Jan 3 next year, and where the grounds of decision have not been read, can increase the claim amount to $100,000.

Mr Goh Joon Seng, Fidrec's chairman and a retired Supreme Court judge, noted that it was timely for Fidrec to initiate a review of its jurisdiction limit in conjunction with its 10th anniversary last year.

"The increase... will allow Fidrec to help more consumers and the financial industry reach an amicable and mutually acceptable resolution in the event of disputes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2016, with the headline 'Fidrec raises limit for non-insurance claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe