INSURANCE


This page last updated on 01/06/20

More information

Making an insurance claim


  • Check if the client has an insurance policy that may cover the loss related to the pandemic
  • The client should make a claim if they might be covered
  • The client does not need to pay the excess up front to get the claim started or assessed. Negotiate a reduction in the excess, or options to either deduct the excess from any settlement or to pay the excess in instalments.
  • Raise a dispute in internal dispute resolution if the claim is not paid
  • If the claim is not paid within 45 days of raising a dispute, lodge a complaint in AFCA.




Premiums


Some clients will have trouble paying premiums on their insurance policies. Options to consider:

  • Contact the insurer to negotiate, which could include: raising the excess to decrease the cost of the premium, negotiating a reduction in premiums, premium holidays, deferring premiums, and changing from an annual premium to paying by the month

  • Negotiate with the insurer and ask what assistance it is offering during the pandemic. For example, see IAG’s announced assistance.

  • Consider cancelling the insurance if it is not needed

  • If it is close to the end of the policy, move to a cheaper insurance policy (for example car insurance, home insurance)




Travel insurance


See the information provided by AFCA on travel insurance.




Health insurance


  • This can be expensive and unaffordable when a person is unemployed.
  • It is worth discussing whether to cancel or negotiate a suspension or another arrangement.
  • Health insurance is not needed to cover treatment for COVID-19.




ASIC's expectations of insurers


ASIC has written to both general insurers and life insurers about its expectations of the way insurers will deal with people affected by COVID-19. A summary of its expectations appears below.

General insurers

  • Stand by the commitment in the 2020 General Insurance Code of Practice. Although the Code does not begin until 1 January 2021, ASIC has asked insurers to consider using the enhanced financial hardship provisions now.
  • Flexibility when dealing with consumers. ASIC has asked insurers to consider premium discounts or holidays so people can maintain their insurance cover.
  • Insurers should avoid “opt-in” processes for benefits and help where possible
  • Insurers should consider the needs and vulnerability of their customers when making insurance renewals so they are fair and reasonable. For example, people finding it difficult to return to Australia may need to extend their travel insurance.
  • Claims handling must be prompt, fair and consistent. Some examples that insurers need to consider are:
    • Not denying claims solely because a person’s circumstances change as a result of the pandemic and they did not notify the insurer
    • Take all practical steps to avoid delays in repairs
    • Waive or alter requirements that are impractical, for example, requiring face to face interviews
    • Not refuse to assess or pay claims because the consumer is unable to pay the excess up front
  • Pandemic-related exclusions on policy renewal must be clearly disclosed

Life Insurers

  • Stand by the commitments in the Life Insurance Code of Practice
  • Flexibility in dealing with consumers. Consider premium holidays or deferrals of premiums for people in financial hardship
  • Insurers should avoid “opt-in” processes for benefits and help where possible
  • Claims handling must be prompt, fair and consistent. Claims should be processed with minimal delay.
  • Local medical professionals should be used for assessments to avoid unnecessary travel
  • Flexibility in the treatment of consumers whose personal and/or working conditions have changed as a result of the pandemic, for example where the working conditions affect their income protection or TPD claim
  • Communicating how insurance may be affected due to COVID-19, for example for life insurance in superannuation




What do you do differently?


  • Talk to your client about the affordability of insurance premiums.
  • Talk about the costs of yearly premiums and how they will pay for the policy renewal
  • Do ask the insurer about any specific financial hardship assistance the insurer can offer your client (if needed)
  • Refer to ASIC’s expectation of the insurer if this will assist




What do the changes mean?


  • Claims can be delayed when the Insurance Council declares a catastrophe.
  • Some types of cover may be difficult/impossible to obtain (for example, travel insurance)
  • Death claims related to the pandemic should be covered under existing life insurance policies. See this statement from the Financial Services Council.
  • Any clients wanting to take out a new life insurance policy (or increase cover) after 11 March 2020 may not be covered for death claims related to the pandemic.





Disclaimer: The information on this website is for financial counsellors only. It is general information only. Financial counsellors must still tailor advice to their client’s individual circumstances. 

Copyright © 2020 Financial Counselling Australia. All rights reserved.​

FCA sincerely thanks Kat Lane. Liz Minter and Melinda Rene for their outstanding work in putting this site together.