ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC has said that the regulator 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.”
The regulator has 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. 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.”
The regulator has warned that, 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. The advise for is to contact insurers directly if anyone is approached by a firm offering to assist with a claim.
The Insurance Council of Australia has also announced its emergency assistance program.
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.