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ESL Monitor accuses Allianz of providing dodgy data

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Former NSW Emergency Services Levy (ESL) Monitor Allan Fels says a “major investigation” into the pricing practices of Allianz uncovered repeated inaccuracies in data provided by the insurer, which had to be resubmitted 13 times.

Professor Fels’ position has now been disbanded, but in his final quarterly report and End of Office Review he reveals Allianz as the “top four” insurer he has been investigating since last year.

“This investigation originally arose from concerns over possible price exploitation in relation to differential pricing for new and renewing policies, but the investigation raised more fundamental concerns about the accuracy of data provided by the insurer over the whole of the monitoring period,” the quarterly report says.

“The investigation raises complex legal questions around whether repeated (13 times) re-submission of data supplied to the Monitor for monitoring purposes, and in response to statutory notices, can be regarded as noncompliance.”

The report says the Monitor also issued statutory notices to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) for information to assist with the investigation.

But it says ICA “advised it had previously deleted most of the information sought at the request of its members and resisted producing the remaining information on legal grounds”.

“This was disappointing given the sound relationship developed by the Office with the ICA,” the report says.

In his End of Office Review Prof Fels returns to the issue to illustrate “data challenges” faced by his office, and reveals that Allianz executives were “required to attend” the Monitor’s office to answer questions.

During questioning Allianz attributed the issues to having to extract data from multiple systems, and staff changes due to retirement, death and other reasons “which meant that continuity of knowledge in relation to the data supplied was limited and disrupted”.

Prof Fels says COVID-19 disruption hampered his investigation and that ultimately there were not sufficient legal grounds to take it further.

“Despite the repeated amendments made to data submitted by Allianz, legal advice received by the Monitor indicated that it would be difficult to take legal action on the basis of the insurer’s failure to comply with a statutory notice in this instance,” the report says.

It says failure to comply only occurs if a person “knowingly” provides information that is false or misleading.

“In this particular case, Allianz has maintained that all information has been provided to the Monitor ‘in good faith’,” the Monitor said.

Allianz told that any inaccuracies were “inadvertent”.

“Allianz did have problems extracting some data in the form requested by the Monitor, resulting in the need to resubmit and/or update some data a number of times,” a spokesman said.

“However, any data inaccuracies were inadvertent and not indicative of any wrongdoing, which was borne out by the fact that the Monitor’s investigation was ultimately abandoned.”

An ICA spokesman said that "at all times the ICA provided to the Monitor relevant information that was in its possession".