'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
Date Written: February 19, 2021
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of exposure to financial loss for policyholders who accept cash settlements and problems with transparency surrounding withdrawn or cancelled claims.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
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