This stance was later annulled by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), which not only contested the insurer’s analysis but also highlighted its failure to document its assertions, leading to undue procrastination.
The dispute originated when the homeowner filed for claims in December 2022 subsequent to discovering her property profoundly vandalized by a former tenant. The cost of restorations was quoted at $15,873, evidence of which was presented via quotations and valid tax invoices. Chubb recognized the legitimacy of repair costs for the fire equipment and flooring, but denied responsibility for other damages, including those incurred on the property’s door, suggesting these were all covered by another contents policy. The homeowner, however, maintained the damages were related to the tenant.
Upon examining the records, AFCA contravened the insurer's claim that a more appropriate coverage applied. Nevertheless, in one scenario involving damage to a door, AFCA concurred with information suggesting the owner’s prior knowledge, hence her need to lodge it as a separate claim. Chubb insisted that a status report presented signs of wear and tear not inclusive in the policy coverage, yet neglected to provide said report as evidence, thereby weakening their argument.
The judgment articulated by AFCA indicated that the insurer had ample opportunities to exhibit pertinent documentation, especially since they were warned of potential unfavorable inferences being drawn if they failed to proffer the requested information within the specified timeframe. Chubb’s omission led to reliance on the homeowner's pre-tenancy condition report, which AFCA found convincingly didn't show the alleged pre-existing damage.
The tension culminated in a mandate requiring Chubb to remit $12,628 to the homeowner, after the policy excess deduction. Moreover, for the troubles wrought by delayed processes, less-than-adequate claims management, and lackluster communication, an added compensation of $3,500 was awarded to the claimant. This recompense was attributed to the significant impact on the homeowner, circumventing her reasonable expectations and encroaching on her serenity and overall wellbeing.
AFCA's determination underscored that the industry's standard of conduct was significantly breached, resulting in excessive delay and marked inconvenience that entangled the homeowner’s peace of mind and rightfully due claim resolution process.
Published:Saturday, 10th Feb 2024
Source: Paige Estritori
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