Posted on 20 Mar 2020
Lawyers are calling on insurance companies to do the right thing by injured Australians and ensure they are processing claims in a timely manner during the Coronavirus crisis.
Slater and Gordon Chief Client Officer Dina Tutungi today said that they are already starting to see some insurers slowing down claims to protect their profits, which will significantly impact injured workers at this time.
“Insurers, more than ever, need to be model litigants so that already vulnerable members of our community are not experiencing unnecessary delays with their claims,” Ms Tutungi said.
“While we are seeing great behaviour by some insurers, for example, the TAC in Victoria, which has signed up to the model litigant guidelines, and is working through claims with expediency, this behaviour is all too rare.
“All insurers need to give people a guarantee that they will do the same. We call on all insurers to sign up to the model litigant protocols.”
In a time when the Coronavirus alone is causing so much uncertainty, the most vulnerable in the community want assurances that their access to compensation – to pay for vital healthcare services, or to feed their families – won’t be hindered by insurance companies protecting their profits.
Ms Tutungi said insurers had a track record of putting their interests ahead of those of their customers, and ahead of already struggling sick and injured Australians.
Lawyers had already started witnessing delays in payments which some insurers were claiming to be because of the uncertainty around the Coronavirus.
“We have been seeing this sort of inexcusable behaviour from insurers for years and years, but the fact we continue to witness these tactics during this modern crisis is reprehensible” she said.
“We have just settled one workers’ compensation matter for a vulnerable person, and there was delay after delay by the insurer to process their payments. This disgraceful behaviour and delay tactics caused undue stress for our injured client who was already under financial burden.”
Ms Tutungi said insurers had a track record of treating claimants poorly, beyond individual matters.
“Slater and Gordon has settled a class action for $49.5 million in relation to alleged junk insurance products from MLC. If customers don’t cancel these policies, they will keep paying premiums,” she said.
“Despite settling the class action, MLC is currently trying to prevent those customers from being provided with information about their rights to cancel any ongoing policies.
“We believe it’s common sense that if someone is being compensated for having been mis-sold an insurance product, they should be provided with information on how to cancel those policies and to stop paying premiums, if they wish to do so.”
“Australia, along with the rest of the world, is in a time of crisis. Now is the time for insurers to step up and realise the right thing to do is to do the right thing.
“Their first priority must be to vulnerable Australians who rely heavily on their compensation to move on and rebuild their lives.”