CHOICE and WEstjustice are calling for the insurance industry to urgently address the practice of unfairly pursuing people who rent for claims made on landlord insurance.
The ABC has released an investigation into this practice today, which highlights a case where Suncorp brand GIO is pursuing a couple for $78,000 for an accidental house fire in a rental property.
See the ABC investigation at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-09/gio-suncorp-insurance-company-wants-money-over-fire/100414092
CHOICE and WEstjustice have asked ASIC and the ACCC to investigate industry practices across landlord insurance and to assess where insurers have misled people or breached licensee obligations to act efficiently, honestly and fairly.
Quotes attributable to Matthew Martin, Acting Legal Director, WEstjustice
"This investigation points to an issue with some insurers using aggressive and misleading tactics to try to get people who rent to pay debts they don't owe."
"I'm most worried about the cases we're not seeing. We don't know how many people have received a threatening letter from an insurer and paid when they didn't have to or were unable to get help from a legal service."
"Australia ultimately needs clearer laws, like they already have in New Zealand, that mean people who rent can't be pursued by insurers for accidental or unintentional damage."
Quotes attributable to Erin Turner, Director of Campaigns, CHOICE
"Any company demanding payment from you should explain what you're paying for. Insurers need to meet this bare minimum standard. The letters we've seen from insurers fail on two fronts - they provide no information on why someone owes the debt and no information about what the debt is for, like a breakdown of the costs and why they're reasonable."
"CHOICE and WEstjustice have written to the boards of insurers who offer landlord insurance to learn more about their collections practices. We will be releasing a ranking in the coming weeks to let people know which insurers they can trust and which to avoid."
"We're already seeing a big difference between how insurers treat collections from people who rent. Some insurers have clear and ethical practices, others are targeting people who rent. Insurers who target renters are on notice: they can and must do better."
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The ABC investigation is available online at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-09/gio-suncorp-insurance-company-wants-money-over-fire/100414092