The corporate regulator has called on insurers to provide fair and effective insurance claims handling for people affected by the Australian bushfires.
ASIC deputy chair Daniel Crennan said the regulator is working with insurers and other key stakeholders to ensure that claims are handled efficiently and fairly.
“We expect those involved in handling these insurance claims to act with the utmost good faith,” Mr Crennan said.
ASIC commissioner Sean Hughes suggested that those affected by the bushfires suggests they deal directly with their insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial adviser.
“Your insurer may be able to provide emergency accommodation and financial support as part of your claim,” Mr Hughes said.
The corporate regulator also warned consumers and small business owners to watch out for fictitious or unscrupulous tradespeople, repairers or firms offering to assist them with their insurance claim.
“Be wary of anyone who asks for payment up front and who asks you to sign a contract immediately,” Mr Hughes said
“Don’t agree to sign anything which prevents you from dealing directly with your insurer, broker, financial adviser or lawyer. Anybody who is concerned about the conduct of such a person or firm should contact ASIC.”
FSC, Zurich launch life insurance policy support
The Financial Services Council has launched a service to help consumers should their life insurance policy details become lost or destroyed as a result of the bushfires.
FSC chief executive Sally Loane said the life insurance industry was working together to ensure every affected Australian can check their records and be reunited with their life insurance policy details.
“There are a few scenarios where we can help, for example, if you need to make a claim for a relative in the case of a fatality; if you have been injured and can’t work; or if you have simply lost your policy documents and details,” Ms Loane said.
“It is important to note if you hold life insurance through your superannuation, you should contact your super fund directly. Life insurers don’t hold the details of individuals covered by group policies.”
In addition, Zurich said it is extending a two-month premium waiver for its customers who are impacted or experiencing hardship.
This waiver will include Zurich and OnePath life insurance customers who:
(a) have been directly impacted by the fires; or
(b) are volunteering in fire impacted regions or are with emergency response teams, to the detriment of their own financial wellbeing.
Zurich’s waiver applies nationally, and has been in place for NSW and Queensland fire-affected customers since November 2019. The waiver will extend to at least 30 March 2020, with ongoing re-assessment as the situation unfolds.
The move from Zurich follows MLC Life Insurance waiving premiums for up to three months for affected retail insurance customers. Like Zurich, MLC’s measures have also been in place for its retail customers in NSW and Queensland since November.
Earlier this week, the Association of Financial Advisers and the Financial Planning Association of Australia announced their efforts to help people affected by the bushfires, including additional support for affected members and pro bono programs for members wanting to volunteer assistance.
Adrian Flores is a deputy editor at Momentum Media, focusing mainly on banking, wealth management and financial services. He has also written for Public Accountant, Accountants Daily and The CEO Magazine.
You can contact him on [email protected].
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