Allianz first up as Hayne turns to general insurance

Allianz this afternoon became the first general insurer to face the Hayne royal commission as Chief GM Retail Distribution Michael Winter was questioned about “incorrect and misleading statements” regarding travel insurance on its website. Mr Winter agreed the website should have been properly reviewed in the form it would be seen by consumers and the company had failed to quickly rectify disclosure issues raised shortly before a revised version went live. The royal commission will later turn to add-on insurance sold through car dealerships, with IAG EGM Business Distribution and Group Executive Ben Bessell scheduled to take the stand. The remainder of the case studies relate to natural disasters. Suncorp CEO Insurance Gary Dransfield will be questioned on AAMI’s handling of claims from the Wye River bushfires of Christmas 2015 and on the insurer’s response to floods in the Hunter Valley in 2015. Youi will face scrutiny on claims-handling after Cyclone Debbie last year and the Broken Hill hailstorms of 2016. The royal commission has also sought witness statements from QBE, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac. Counsel Assisting, Rowena Orr, said of 8977 public submissions to the commission, 620 were related to general insurance. The three most common areas were home and contents, motor and travel. Ms Orr emphasised that prohibitions on conflicted remuneration contained in the Corporations Act don’t apply to general insurance. “This means that there is no limit on the amount that general insurance companies can pay in commissions in relation to the sale of general insurance products,” she said. In the financial years from 2013-15 ASIC found insurers paid more than $600 million in upfront commissions to car yard intermediaries for add-on products, while insurers collected $1.6 billion in premiums and paid out only $144 million in claims, she told the hearing. On claim denials, Ms Orr said more than one in every 10 travel claims is denied, compared to a rate of 0.27% for motor claims declined in full and 5.77 for home and contents. Motor claims average about 64 days to be closed, while for home and contents it is about 65 days. Travel claims average about 41.18 days. 

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