A New Zealand couple has been given the green light to sue ANZ and its subsidiary OnePath, after the couple’s financial adviser raised concerns about the wording of their life insurance policy.
The Civil and Administrative Tribunal granted Charles and Judith Cairns permission this week to proceed with a complaint of racial discrimination against ANZ and OnePath.
According to the Tribunal's decision, the Cairns purchased life insurance through OnePath in 2005 that was only for permanent Australian residents aged 21 to 59.
About 10 years later, however, the couple’s financial adviser discovered that they were not covered under this definition.
“The wording had changed to define permanent resident of Australia as ‘an Australian citizen or a person in possession of a Permanent Resident’s visa’,” the Tribunal said.
“The Cairns’ financial adviser wrote to OnePath on 28 March 2015 to clarify the matter. On 9 April 2015, the Cairns received a response from OnePath stating that the Cairns ‘would not be covered from commencement of the policy as they are not citizens or permanent residents of Australia’.”
OnePath then advised the couple to cancel the policy and refunded all paid premiums. It also issued an apology and offered the couple a new policy “with more favourable terms”, the Tribunal said.
The Cairns, however, rejected the settlement offer because of their concern for other New Zealand citizens. The couple is now taking legal action against ANZ and OnePath for racial discrimination.
The Tribunal said that if the complaints proceed to a hearing, it is possible that the Cairns would be able to prove that “the alleged conduct constitutes a breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act.”
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