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55 and out: repeat claimant loses fight for renewal

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A homeowner who lodged 55 home and contents claims will have her policy cancelled after a dispute ruling determined that her insurer was within its rights not to offer her a renewal.

IAG informed the woman that it would not renew her policy in September 2020 because of her "extensive" claims history, which prompted her to raise the issue with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

Of the complainant’s 55 property claims, 39 were lodged within the most recent five-year period, with many of the claims accepted by the insurer.

IAG declined to renew her policy, which was due to expire on September 24 2020.

The insurer later acknowledged that it did not comply with Section 58 of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth), requiring insurers to provide their clients with 14 days notice of a decision not to offer a renewal before said policy expires.

IAG’s letter was dated September 10, but posted, meaning the policyholder did not receive it on that date and was not provided with the required notice of the insurer’s decision. As a result, the insurer acknowledged it was on risk pursuant to a statutory contract.

But on March 8 last year, IAG informed the homeowner that it would cancel the statutory contract, which would expire on April 5.

AFCA said the insurer’s actions complied with the act and that it was entitled to decide not to renew the policy.

"It is clear she has had an extensive claims history," AFCA said.

"Particularly in the five years preceding the insurer’s decision to refuse to provide cover. Given this, the panel does not accept the complainant has shown the insurer’s refusal to cover her was based on incorrect information. Neither does the panel consider the insurer’s decision is unfair."

The complainant said she had several pending claims stemming from a flood event in 2020 or inadequate repairs by the insurer and pushed for them to be covered.

IAG said it declined some of these claims under policy exclusions or had already offered settlements amounting to $1962 as well as an allowance of $2500 for an unsubstantiated claim.

The panel said the claimant failed to show evidence that the claims were handled inconsistently with the policy terms and conditions and the insurer’s settlement offers were fair.

Click here for the full ruling.