ASIC media releases are point-in-time statements. Please note the date of issue and use the internal search function on the site to check for other media releases on the same or related matters.

Thursday 9 January 2020

20-006MR ASIC encourages fair and effective insurance claims handling for people affected by the bushfires – warns against unscrupulous “service providers”

ASIC is committed to helping Australians affected by the devastating bushfires to rebuild their lives. ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC said that ‘ASIC is working with insurers and other key stakeholders to ensure that claims are handled efficiently and fairly. We expect those involved in handling these insurance claims to act with the utmost good faith’.

For consumers and businesses adversely impacted by the bushfires, ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes said, ‘If you're affected by the bushfires, ASIC suggests you deal directly with your insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial adviser. Your insurer may be able to provide emergency accommodation and financial support as part of your claim.’ 

Information on what to do after a natural disaster is available on ASIC’s MoneySmart website. This includes information about contacting your insurer, assessing the damage when it is safe to do so, and where to find additional help if you need it.

ASIC is also warning consumers and small business owners to watch out for fictitious or unscrupulous tradespeople, repairers or firms offering to assist them with their insurance claim. Mr Hughes added ‘These unscrupulous operators typically target homeowners, farmers and small businesses in the aftermath of natural disasters. They may claim to be able to identify damage to your property, sometimes by way of a free inspection. Be wary of anyone who asks for payment up front and who asks you to sign a contract immediately. Don’t agree to sign anything which prevents you from dealing directly with your insurer, broker, financial adviser or lawyer. Anybody who is concerned about the conduct of such a person or firm should contact ASIC.’

With so many offers of help in this time of need it is important to remain vigilant and always check the licence and ABN of tradespeople and companies. You should contact your insurer directly if you are approached by a firm offering to assist with your claim.

Financial help is available to those impacted by the recent bushfires. ASIC’s Moneysmart provides contact details of free legal, financial and support services available in each state and territory to help people during the recovery process.

ASIC welcomes announcements by the Australian Banking Association and the Customer Owned Banking Association about the assistance their members are able to provide to their customers, and encourages all banks and other lenders to respond appropriately to financial difficulties arising directly or indirectly from the fires. The financial impact of these events on individuals, small businesses and local communities will in many cases be significant and long-lasting, and may require both immediate and longer-term responses.

The Insurance Council of Australia has also announced its emergency assistance program.

If you are unhappy with your insurer’s response, or with the outcome of your claim, delays, the proposed settlement or the service you have received, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (1800 931 678).

ASIC relief for various company-related fees

ASIC is offering assistance for customers, including small businesses, who are affected by the current bushfires by providing relief from various company-related fees that may be payable. Details of how to apply for fee relief or contact us for other assistance is available on ASIC’s website.

Last updated: 09/01/2020 01:16