'Honest, Fair, Transparent and Timely?' Experiences of Australians Who Make Claims on Their Building, Home Contents or Comprehensive Car Insurance Policies

Monash University Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2021, forthcoming

50 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2021

See all articles by Evgenia Bourova

Evgenia Bourova

University of Melbourne - Law School

Ian Ramsay

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne

Paul Ali

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: February 19, 2021

Abstract

In Australia, building, home contents and comprehensive car insurance are regarded as ‘essential’ financial products. Yet the limited research on the experiences of consumers who claim against these policies highlights problems with claims handling by insurers, who are required under the General Insurance Code of Practice (2014) to decide claims in an ‘honest, fair, transparent and timely manner’. These problems are especially apparent in the aftermath of natural disasters, and include inappropriate investigation practices and delays that exacerbate financial hardship for policyholders. In this article, we analyse the findings of our survey of policyholders who recently made claims on building, home contents or comprehensive car insurance policies. We show that while most claims are accepted, excessive resolution times, poor communication and problematic investigation practices by insurers make the claims process burdensome and overwhelming for a significant minority of policyholders. Our findings indicate substantial levels of exposure to financial loss for policyholders who accept cash settlements and problems with transparency surrounding withdrawn or cancelled claims. Our findings highlight issues with compliance with the legal frameworks governing insurance claims, as well as gaps in consumer protection that should be addressed in expectation of more frequent extreme weather events in the coming decades.

Keywords: General insurance; Insurance claim; Consumer protections; Consumer experiences

Suggested Citation

Bourova, Evgenia and Ramsay, Ian and Ali, Paul, 'Honest, Fair, Transparent and Timely?' Experiences of Australians Who Make Claims on Their Building, Home Contents or Comprehensive Car Insurance Policies (February 19, 2021). Monash University Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2021, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3798248

Evgenia Bourova

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Ian Ramsay (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 5332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/ian-ramsay

Paul Ali

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 1088 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 5285 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au

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