The Australian Financial Complaints Authority’s ruling in a recent insurance case has read as a timely reminder after a home was destroyed by bushfire. The insurance claim was denied because the premium payments weren’t up to date.
The homeowner, unhappy with Suncorp denying his claim, took the case to the AFCA, claiming the insurer hadn’t attempted to contact either himself or his wife before the policy was cancelled.
He cited a period of illness during the time before the policy was cancelled, in addition to the COVID lockdowns at the time.
AFCA explained that Suncorp had complied with the relevant sections of the Insurance Contracts Act and had let the policy end. When it was due to expire, a renewal notice was sent a month prior, in addition to an ‘unpaid reminder’ notice being issued.
The correspondence was electronic, with emails and text messages both used to contact the client. The claimant said he had not consented to only receiving electronic communications from the insurer, but Suncorp disagreed, citing that he had never indicated he wanted to change his correspondence preferences.
AFCA noted that he should have been aware of the uninsured property because no premiums were taken from the client.
“The complainant has provided information about a number of significant personal, health and family difficulties which had been on-going for some time; many of which were then understandably exacerbated by the tragic loss of their home from the bushfire,” AFCA said.
“The panel acknowledges this will have been an extremely difficult and upsetting period for the complainant and his family; and that their focus, in the period leading up to the bushfire, may have been on other compelling personal matters, rather than the issue of insurance.”
But it says it was “ultimately his responsibility” to ensure that the property had adequate coverage.
“The evidence does not show the insurer did anything wrong in the notices it issued, or the actions it took in allowing the policy to come to its expected end, given the failure of the complainant to confirm and pay for renewal when it was due.
“On that basis, the panel is satisfied the insurer has correctly declined this claim and is not required to take any further action.”