19/09/2023 Update – Media Release Statement: An Urgent Call for ASIC to Investigate Unfair Alcohol-Related Clauses in Travel Insurance.
Policy is until you need to claim it. Am I right? Recently, a number of stories have been in the public spotlight where claimants ran into problems because it was alleged they were intoxicated. Do you really know the ins and outs of your policy when it comes to alcohol? It’s something that accident and travel compensation lawyer Peter Carter wants more clarity on, and he’s actually written to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission asking for an investigation into unfair terms and the claims practices of travel insurers. Peter’s on the line. Good morning, Peter.
Good morning, Stan.
We’ve had some highly publicized cases where a claim was denied because a person was drinking, but do you think this happens more than many of us suspect?
I think it does, and the tragedy is that travelers just aren’t aware of it and aren’t aware that they can have their claims denied and they’re not aware of the differences between different policies.
How ambiguous are the insurance rules when it comes to alcohol consumption?
Well, you have to look at the product disclosure statement to find out what the rules of your particular policy are, and they’re not easy to look at in advance. Usually you have to get to the quote stage on the online application before you can even access the product disclosure statement. But there is a wide difference between numerous policies
And I just wonder how many of us are reading the fine print here, Peter?
Well, I doubt.
And how many people are getting caught out because they’re not doing that.
Well, I agree with what you say. It’s probably a lot more than the ones that come to our attention. The websites don’t refer to this at all and you have to dig into the product disclosure statement. You don’t want about page 50.
Yeah. Righty. You’ve actually written to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. You want an investigation into this. What might that look like?
Well, I’ve just raised it, brought it to their attention to see if it’s a matter they think worthy of their investigation protocols. They’ve done some very good investigations recently in relation to general insurance claims handling and claims denial practices. It would involve examining all the policies that’s the starting point and looking at these exclusions and they would form an opinion about the appropriateness of the disclosure and the appropriateness of the clauses and then perhaps prosecute the insurers and demand better practices.
Do you think it’s on insurance companies to be a bit more transparent and upfront with these details rather than hiding them on page 50 or is it up to the consumer to do the research, which is what an insurance company might argue?
Well, I’m sure they will argue that, but the websites show lovely pictures of people on holiday enjoying themselves. Nowhere on the face of the website including the terms about number of days and what’s excluded about sports and things like that, is there a mention of alcohol? It should be there and arguably it’s misleading if they don’t. And the other thing is that the consumers are being denied the opportunity to choose between different insurers. Some have no exclusions, no significant exclusions in relation to alcohol.
A quick one here from Paul. Can you ask your insurance guest about travel insurance for preexisting conditions such as cancer diagnosis? Are those the sort of details buried in page 50, Peter?
They are. Look, usually, preexisting conditions aren’t covered, but again, that would depend from one policy to the other.
All right, it sounds like we need some clarity here. Have you heard back from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission yet?
That would’ve only got the letter yesterday, so no. I don’t expect to reply immediately. They’re a busy organization, but it’s something that we need to raise awareness of and travelers need to be aware of.
Absolutely. So I guess the lesson here at least is really do take the time to read the fine print before jumping on that aeroplane.
Well ask your travel agent, ask them to find out from the insurer what the ins and outs are. I mean, really travelers shouldn’t be expected to have to go to a lawyer for this sort of advice.
Yeah, nice to chat Peter. Thank you and good luck.
Accident and travel compensation lawyer Peter Carter. He wants more clarity on alcohol. If you happen to have had a couple of drinks, maybe intoxicated, you’re on holidays, you get into strife the clarity on what you can claim.. And he’s actually written to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission asking for an investigation into unfair terms and the claims practices of travel insurers. It’s 28 past.