Insurers urged to provide step premium information

Life insurance firms have work to do on providing step premium information, according to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

In a webinar, Andrew Weinmann, AFCA life insurance ombudsman, said incorrect premiums were the most-common topic for complaints in that space.

Some 213 complaints during the 2020/21 financial year related to incorrect premiums, the most-common complaint. This was followed by denial of claim and delay in claims handling.

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“There is still a lot of work for insurers to do on step premiums, it would help if they give this information about premium rates tables or projections at point of sale and on renewal, I think there would be a lot less complaints about step premiums at AFCA,” Weinmann said.

He said AFCA could only consider complaints about misrepresentation of a premium, incorrect application of a premium or a breach of law by a financial firm, if it was unable to resolve complaints about premium increases.

Weinmann added it was also in the complainants’ interest to comply with any requests made by their insurer rather than waiting for it to be resolved. The average time for a claim to be resolved in the life insurance space was 124 days.

“It may be in their interest to simply comply because if the complaint gets to the end of the AFCA process and we say yes, they do have to do the medical assessment or whatever the insurer is asking, if they find that out in five or six months then they have added more time to the delay,” Weinmann said.

“We will be clear with complainants about how long things can take and the practical advantage for them of co-operating rather than fighting with those type of procedural requests.”

In order to best resolve a complaint, Weinmann suggested complainants provided policy documents, any letters sent by the provider and confirmation from the premium pricing unit including factors leading to the increase, breakdown of how it was calculated and whether they were applied to all policyholders.

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