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Technical glitch proves costly as claimant loses travel dispute

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A complainant whose online purchase of a travel insurance policy failed to go through because of a technical glitch on the insurer’s website has lost her dispute before the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

She had made an unsuccessful claim for medical expenses incurred as a result of a snowboarding incident in Japan in March, and other costs related to having cut short her trip because of her injury.

AFCA says it acknowledges the complainant’s opinion that the technical glitch was the fault of Auto and General, but ruled it was her responsibility to check that her insurance purchase had been processed and accepted before going on her trip.

But she failed to do so, despite having been advised over the phone by a representative of the insurer that she would receive the relevant policy documentation upon the successful inception of her policy.

“The complainant has failed to ensure her online insurance application had been successfully submitted and accepted by the insurer, before proceeding on her trip,” AFCA said.

“It is not unusual or unheard of that tasks completed online can be impacted by technical issues.

“The onus, as referred to above, rested with the complainant to ensure her application had been successfully submitted to the insurer.”

The complainant had initially called Auto and General about buying travel insurance on the eve of her trip to Japan, but was told to make an online purchase instead as the insurer’s system was having issues accepting payment over the phone.

Recordings of the call provided to AFCA show there was no arrangement to buy the travel insurance over the phone, given the system’s problems on that day.

It was also clear that when the call ended, there were no concerns or issues raised by the complainant who was still filling out her online purchase application. Additionally there was no confirmation by the insurer’s representative that a policy was coming into effect.

“Rather, the call was ended on the agreement the complainant would continue with the online application process to arrange cover,” AFCA said. “Further, she was told on the policy successfully being incepted, she would receive relevant policy documentation.

“Given the available information, I am satisfied, on balance, the complainant on completing the application has closed her laptop. However, the online application did not successfully process because of technical issues.

“The complainant did not note this nor the fact that she had not received policy documents and no payment had been made to the insurer. She proceeded to travel to Japan the next day.”

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