19/09/2023 Update – Media Release Statement: An Urgent Call for ASIC to Investigate Unfair Alcohol-Related Clauses in Travel Insurance.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

And travel compensation lawyer has written to ASIC, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, asking for an urgent investigation into unfair terms and claim practices of travel insurers. Have you come up against some resistance following something that’s happened when you’ve been overseas? Let me know. 133 882. Let’s go to Peter Carter. He’s a former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. He’s Director of Carter Capner Law, as well. Good morning to you, Peter.

Peter Carter (00:28):

Good morning.

Speaker 1 (00:29):

We’re getting duped by our travel insurers.

Peter Carter (00:32):

Well, there’s certainly a lot of confusion there and some, what I call, unfair claims practices, particularly in relation to exclusion clauses that travel insurers use to deny claims.

Speaker 1 (00:44):

So, what are you wanting ASIC to investigate here? There’s some key areas that you are seeing popping up regularly.

Peter Carter (00:51):

Yes. The new ground that insurers appear to be making hay while the sun shine about is related to alcohol consumption by travel, by holiday makers. And if they suffer an injury that would normally qualify for payment of hospitalization fees overseas and maybe back to Australia, they’re saying, “No, you drank too much.”

Speaker 1 (01:21):

Right. And we’ve seen that really tragic situation with WA Police Officer Ella Cutler over in Croatia recently, as well. And the thing with this as well, Peter, and the situation with Ella, her friends banded together and family and more than half a million dollars has been raised to bring her home. But that travel insurance claim was not back. I suppose it hits people when they’re most vulnerable in a lot of ways.

Peter Carter (01:46):

It certainly does. And the two points are that it’s not apparent to travelers that this sort of exclusion might apply on the one hand. And secondly, that the way the insurer goes about deciding whether the exclusion applies, that needs to be addressed, as well.

Speaker 1 (02:04):

Has there been a change in that space, Peter, or is it just that we’re hearing more about it now?

Peter Carter (02:10):

Well, it’s these two recent matters that brought the issue to my attention. I’m not aware of this being so prevalent previously, but I have looked at the policies of some insurers and they are really quite unfair, I believe.

Speaker 1 (02:27):

It’s not unreasonable to think that when you’re traveling, you might have a drink or two, as well.

Peter Carter (02:33):

Exactly. And we’re not talking about drinking and driving. We’re talking about people having a few drinks in their resort and then having an accident, not connected with a vehicle at all, but the insurer says, “No, we’re not paying in this case. You are on your own.”

Speaker 1 (02:52):

I suppose when you look at insurance, particularly with travel insurance, you either sign on the dotted line or you don’t. There’s not a lot of wriggle room that seems to negotiate those terms. But what is the advice for people if they’re heading on a holiday and they’re paying for travel insurance?

Peter Carter (03:08):

Well, there’s a wide disparity among policies. Some pay very little attention to alcohol consumption altogether. So, people need the knowledge to be able to choose among the policies. The problem is that the exclusions buried in the disclosure statements about page 50, and if someone’s not very careful or engaged as a lawyer, which would be ridiculous really to do, they will not know about it. Travelers shouldn’t have to engage a lawyer to know whether their travel policy is fair.

Speaker 1 (03:43):

Yeah, that’s it. You can get bogged down as well in that detail. If we’re being honest, how many people who book travel insurance are going through to page 50 of the fine print?

Peter Carter (03:53):

Exactly. And this type of thing needs to be on the website, where the same benefits are advertised. It should be prominently displayed there and not kept in the fine print.

Speaker 1 (04:09):

What are you hoping to hear from ASIC and have you heard anything yet?

Peter Carter (04:13):

No, we haven’t heard anything yet, but we’ve just asked them to see if it’s a matter that they consider it’s worth investigating. They have done some good work, very good work recently in relation to general insurance, home insurance claims issues. So, this is a matter that they may well take on and hopefully bring about some significant changes.

Speaker 1 (04:36):

Peter, really good to talk to you. We’ll keep in touch and see how it goes. That is Peter Carter there, former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Director of Carter Capner Law as well, seeking some answers from ASIC. Be keen to hear from you around your experiences when traveling with your insurer. Things have been tight. Let me know. 133 882, Sport’s 11.