The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has ruled in favour of insurance giant Allianz and closed all individual complaints made by consumers covering add-on insurance policies obtained between 1 June 2006 and 7 July 2020.
The ruling was made following submissions to the insurance ombudsman from claims management company, Claimo, arguing it was unfair to delay complainants’ right to pursue a claim against Allianz individually when group members have not been notified of the class action and when an opt-out notice is unavailable.
AFCA Legal Counsel responded saying the complainants are likely eligible class action members and the issues raised are being dealt with by the Supreme Court of Victoria in the Allianz class action.
AFCA previously decided to progress matters in the ANZ Consumer Credit Insurance Class action where no opt-out notice was available. AFCA’s decision in the Allianz Class Action has severely delayed complainants’ individual claims which is extremely unfair and begs the question, what rights do consumers really have?
AFCA has the right to exclude a complaint at their discretion under their Rules. This includes excluding complaints which are subject (or have been subject) to a class action, even if the complainant did not receive a copy of the notice or unaware of the proceedings.
Claimo’s Operations Manager Nikola Araouzou who is an Australian admitted lawyer said, “The Class system is fundamentally not working for group members affected by the add-on insurance class actions. The data shows that most members will not register for compensation, or the compensation amount will not reflect the total charges paid by the policyholder.”
“Alternative dispute resolution channels provide consumers access to justice and remedies for free. These channels play an important social and economic role, but class actions are overriding policyholder’s right to such basic access to justice.” Nikola added.