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AFCA Rebukes IAG Over Mismanaged Flood Damage Claim

AFCA Rebukes IAG Over Mismanaged Flood Damage Claim

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has been mandated to reexamine a denied claim and offer compensation to a driver whose "vulnerable status" was overlooked.

Following a flood incident in remote Northern Territory, the driver submitted a claim on March 9 last year after his car was trapped in the floodwaters. He was transporting a friend to retrieve her vehicle when the floodwater immobilized his Holden Commodore, valued at $32,000.

The driver reported significant water intrusion into the vehicle, compromising its engine and electronics. He and his passenger needed over 15 minutes to push the vehicle out from the water.

IAG arranged for the car to be transported to Darwin for inspection. In June, the mechanic’s report indicated no water damage to the engine or interior, yet traces of water were discovered in its oil.

Another mechanic’s assessment found no water in the air filters or throttle but noted rust corrosion, indicative of water presence.

Due to the claim being filed six days after the policy initiation, IAG flagged the claim's legitimacy and handed it over to their fraud investigation unit. The unit interviewed both the driver and passenger and demanded multiple documents, including mobile records, a car purchase contract, and service history.

According to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), the driver submitted all requested documentation with the exception of his bank statements. Unfortunately, his mobile phone records were not provided in the correct format.

The insurer contended that further investigation was contingent on receiving all requested information and upheld their decision to decline the claim pending additional data.

However, AFCA challenged IAG’s stance, arguing the driver had sufficiently complied with the investigation despite the missing documentation. The authority stated that evidence from the two expert reports supported the driver’s account of events.

The authority emphasized the presence of water in the vehicle, citing the seized engine, evident corrosion in all cylinders, the presence of surface rust, and the milky oil in the oil filter, all hinting at water contamination.

Additionally, AFCA criticized IAG for not recognizing the driver’s vulnerability, stemming from his remote residence, financial duress, and health issues, including a broken leg.

AFCA noted that the insurer's mishandling of the claim had caused avoidable stress and delays for the driver. Consequentially, IAG was compelled to pay a penalty of $5400 for non-financial losses.

"The insurer should either properly execute its investigation or make a claim decision based on the available information," AFCA stated. "Unreasonable demands for additional information have resulted in undue stress for the claimant. IAG must compensate him for the resulting inconvenience and emotional distress."

Published:Sunday, 2nd Jun 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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An insurance that provides cover for liability incurred in the course of exercising a profession.