A leading accident and travel compensation lawyer has written to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission asking for an urgent investigation into unfair terms and claims practices of travel insurers.

The call follows a spate of recently reported, serious accidents to Australians while holidaying overseas.

One report said the injured person had alcohol in their system and the insurer had denied the claim. The family is now trying to raise the $500,000 medical and repatriation bill.

In another report, family members said their insurer, Cover-More, refused the claim by alleging the insured person was intoxicated. They had to fundraise to bring the victim home but she sadly passed away in Australia.

Former national president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and director of Carter Capner Law Peter Carter said most travellers would be shocked to learn that alcohol consumption could void their claim.

“Insurers are not disclosing the exclusion and are misleading consumers. Cover-More has this exclusion buried on page 52 of their product disclosure statement.

“No one would even know about it because there is no reference to the “too much alcohol” exclusion anywhere on their website, “ he said.

“As well, the term ‘too much alcohol’ is far too vague to be able to be determined by the secondary means that are specified, which include the insured’s own admissions, the description of events, or a third-party witness report.”

Mr Carter pointed out that even if a person has a high blood alcohol reading, it doesn’t mean the claim ‘involves, arises from or relates to an impairment due to drinking too much alcohol’, which the policy wording states.

He revealed that QANTAS travel insurance states it can reject a claim if ‘you put yourself in danger’ from alcohol use, while Southern Cross Travel Insurance can reject a claim if ‘you put yourself in danger by being under the influence of alcohol including your conduct while under their influence’.

“These blanket statements are simply an excuse to deny claims. The insurer should prove its case that the accident was caused by the alcohol consumption in court before denying the client,” he said.

He urged travellers who may have an accident overseas not to make statements around their alcohol consumption before seeking legal advice.

“An injured person could be giving up serious rights by making confessions to insurance adjusters, who will then go behind their back to deny their claim.”

“If you are injured and the travel insurer won’t pay, you will most likely have to seek legal compensation upon your return to Australia,” he explained.

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Barbara Gorogh

CRC Public Relations

E: barbara[@]crcpr.com.au