CHOICE has released an investigation today showing how some landlord insurers like Suncorp and Chubb are demanding payment from people who rent with little or no evidence that they owe the money. CHOICE and WEstJustice are together calling on insurers to stop targeting people who rent with threatening bills.
The investigation features the story of a temporary migrant in Australia being asked by Longitude Insurance (underwritten by Chubb) to pay $133,000 for a fire in his rental property that the fire department determined was caused by an electrical fault.
Read the investigation at: choice.com.au/insurance-robodebt
Quotes attributable to Jarni Blakkarly, Investigative Journalist, CHOICE
"As the investigative journalist leading this work at CHOICE, I’ve talked with people sick with worry and dread after receiving demands for payment from insurers for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are people who are at risk of losing everything. These demands come with little or no explanation or evidence - it’s up to the person on the receiving end to prove they don’t own what’s being demanded."
"This looks a lot like robodebt-style tactics from the insurance sector."
"This isn’t an isolated incident or a one off mistake, I have found examples from around Australia of insurance companies pursuing renters in this way. The stress and anxiety this is causing the people who receive these bills is huge."
"CHOICE has been in contact with insurers who offer landlord insurance and it’s clear that some treat people who rent fairly, while others target them."
Quotes attributable to Matthew Martin, Acting Legal Director, WEstjustice
"Insurers who are sending bills to people who rent after claims are made on landlord insurance need to make sure their systems and processes are fair and transparent.
"CHOICE and WEstJustice polled over 5,500 people about landlord insurers billing people who rent and the results were clear. 98% of people think this practice is unfair."
"People who are landlords are shocked at this practice. Of the over 1,200 landlords who responded to our poll, 95% said they support insurance companies being banned from billing renters for damage they didn’t cause.
"No good landlord wants to bankrupt their tenants. Many people who hold landlord insurance would be appalled if an insurance claim led to serious financial harm for the people renting their property, while insurers got away without paying the costs."
"Some insurers like Suncorp and Chubb need to do better when it comes to communicating with and demanding payment from people who rent. CHOICE and WEstJustice will keep calling on the industry to stop unfair robodebt style practices."
Images and videos available here: https://sites.google.com/choice.com.au/insurance-robodebt
Media contact: 0430 172 669, firstname.lastname@example.org
The poll referenced ran on choice.com.au between late July and late August.
5,479 people completed the poll, including 1,202 people who stated they were landlords (21.15%).
The poll found that:
- 94% of people were unaware that insurance companies could bill renters for damage after paying a landlord insurance claim.
- 98% of people think that insurers billing renters for damage they didn’t cause is unfair.
- 96% of people support insurance companies being banned from billing renters for damage they didn’t cause.
- Of the over 1,200 landlords who responded to our poll, 95% said they support insurance companies being banned from billing renters for damage they didn’t cause
This investigation is the second in a series about landlord insurance recoveries practices. CHOICE and community legal centre WEstJustice have teamed up to approach regulators and insurers to improve practices.