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Allianz add-on class actions to be combined

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Two class actions against Allianz Australia over add-on insurance sold through car dealerships are set to be combined following a Victorian Supreme Court decision this week.

The separate legal matters filed by solicitors Maurice Blackburn and Johnson Winter & Slattery last year were described as having significant overlap, while also having differences in the requirements for participants.

The firms said consolidation would allow claims “of all group members to be determined without delay or deferral, in a single proceeding” and that the insurer would not have to face additional costs from defending multiple proceedings.

Allianz, which disputes allegations in the cases, argued against combining the actions and having two firms of solicitors named, saying it would inflate costs. The insurer proposed that, after putting forward competing proposals, only one of the matters should then proceed.

Justice Lisa Nichols said consolidating proceedings was one way of addressing the problem of having multiple actions, and an amended proceeding could encompass participants in both matters.

The proposed protocol put forward by the law firms contained measures to minimise potential duplications in costs and the firms’ application “appropriately” protected the interests of the class action members and should be granted, she said.

“It does not prejudice the defendants,” she said. “It solves the multiplicity problem with which the court must grapple, in a way that is consistent with the overarching purpose.”

Products at the centre of the class actions include loan protection insurance, GAP insurance, extended motor warranties and tyre and rim cover.

The class actions seek compensation for alleged misleading or deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct or unjust enrichment in relation to the sale of the insurances.

The law firms will file a consolidated writ by next Friday, with the insurer to file a defence by October 22.

The court decision is available here.