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Lawyer calls out ‘obstructive and unhelpful’ life insurers

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A lawyer has called for the Life insurance Code of Practice to be amended so it provides “appropriate and readily accessible” contact details for company representatives.

John Harvey, a compensation specialist at Brisbane-based law firm Bennett and Philp, says

In a blog post on the company’s website that this would help avoid life insurers and other financial services firms undoing the positive work of the financial services royal commission.

He details a series of “revealing” experiences he underwent while researching the insurance coverage of an injured client who had money in seven different superannuation funds.

While a few companies were prompt with their responses and “quite reasonable to deal with”, others were “unhelpful to the point of being obstructive, despite having self-serving statements repeated in their written correspondence such as ‘We are here to help,’ which are meaningless and largely untrue,” he says.

“These are some of the wealthiest businesses in Australia. There is no excuse that they cannot afford the resources.”

He does not name the insurers but says they are “firms everyone would have heard of or seen on television”.

Detailing a number of negative interactions with insurers, Mr Harvey says it was “galling” to receive emails from financial services companies with no identification of the author of the communication.

“Usually combined with that is no direct telephone line (or email address) to contact the person involved but a generic 1300-style number – which might be fine if one has half a day to waste waiting to be answered, answering ‘privacy’ questions and being redirected from person to person.

“Communications with members, claimants and their representatives ought to be clear and concise, not obstructive and not filled with irrelevant and generic statements.”